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Semi-Bluffs in Loose Games

Remember that in a normal games, semi-bluffs have three ways of winning - by making the best hand later, by catching a scare card to make opponents fold later, or by making opponents fold immediately. It is these three possible ways of winning that make semi-bluffs profitable plays. But what is likely to happen in a loose games? First, loose players don't fold easily, so your semi-bluffs will rarely win immediately. Second, when you catch a scare card that doesn't really help your hand, loose players are more likely to want to "keep you honest" with a call than are average and tight players. Consequently, one of the ways a semi-bluff can win - when opponents fold immediately - has been all but completely eliminated; and a second way - when you catch scare cards - becomes doubtful. Without these two extra ways of winning, semi-bluffs no longer have positive expectation. Therefore, you must abandon most semi-bluffs when there's a high probability that the only way they can win is by improving to the best hand. With respect to semi-bluffing, then, it's true that you must play much tighter in a loose games.

Legitimate Hands in Loose Games

What about legitimate hands? In a loose games people are willing to play a hand that is relatively lower in value than the average. Therefore, your own legitimate hands don't need to be quite as good as in a normal games since your opponents are likely to be staying with you with even worse hands. This becomes especially true when you get heads-up against one opponent.

However, because of the action and the participants' style of play, loose games frequently tend to have multi-way pots. With many players staying in, you would be wrong to loosen up with hands like two small pair or one medium pair. Even though these marginal hands might be favorites to hold up against each of several loose opponents individually, chances are they will lose when there are several opponents in the pot. By the same token, if you bet with these hands, you are much less likely to get two, three, or four opponents to fold, particularly when they are loose players, than you are to get one opponent to fold.

Come Hands in Loose Games

In contrast to other semi-bluff hands and small pairs, come hands increase in value with many players in the pot because you are usually getting excellent pot odds to draw to them. Furthermore, when the games is loose, you figure to get paid off well once you've made a straight or a flush. Therefore, in a loose games with several players in the pot, you should play more drawing hands, such as big three-flushes on fourth street in seven-card stud, than you would usually play in loose games, then, you should tighten up considerably on semi-bluffs but loosen up with legitimate hands. However, you would not play loose with marginal hands like two small pair or one medium pair when several opponents are in the pot.

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