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ADVANTAGE OF THE SEMI-BLUFF

First, the semi-bluff tends to make your opponent play incorrectly according to the Fundamental Theorem of Online Poker Games. When you semi-bluff, you presumably do not have the best hand. If your opponent could see your cards, his correct play would be to raise. However, since you are representing something with your semi-bluff, opponents will nearly always only call. Sometimes they will make the worst play of all by folding the best hand.

Second, when the hand with which you are semi-bluffing is 111 fact the best hand at the moment, by betting you are not making the mistake the mistake of giving worse hands free cards. As we saw in the previous page, it is critical to bet the best hand with more cards to come in order to avoid giving people a free card. Not only will a worse hand usually fold, which is fine, especially if the opponent is getting proper odds to call, but a better hand might fold. If the better hand calls, which is more likely, you still have the chance of improving to the best hand. If, instead of betting, you check and a better hand bets, your hand probably justifies a call. So you have gained nothing by checking. You do not get yourself a free card. Hence, you are more likely to semi-bluff in first position than in last, where you have the option of giving yourself a free card.

A third advantage of the semi-bluff is that, used correctly, it adds an enormous amount of deceptiveness to your games.

This last point is an additional benefit of the semi-bluff in stud games but especially in hold 'em. When you do hit the card that makes your hand, your opponent will often misread it because of your bet on the previous round (except in the cases where you were straightforwardly betting on the come with a flush or a straight draw). Thus, you may win a larger pot than you would have otherwise expected.

Both the semi-bluff and betting a marginal hand rather than risking giving a worse hand a free card are cases of the general precept that it is usually better to be betting than calling. By betting as a semi-bluff you have a chance of winning the pot right there, something you are usually hoping to do, and you have shown greater strength than you really have. If you catch scary-looking cards after you have been called, you are still likely to win pots you wouldn't otherwise have won. When you bet now, your opponent is quite likely to fold. On the other hand, when you don't improve and are caught in a semi-bluff, that can be of value as an advertisement for the future.

A final advantage of the semi-bluff, is that you can sometimes use it to get a free card. Let's say an opponent in hold 'em bets on the flop, and you raise with a four-flush. If that player calls your raise, it is likely he will check to you on fourth street. If you haven't made the flush, you have the option of checking behind him for a free card.

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 Theory of Bluffings | The Semi Bluff | Semi Bluff Types | All About Semi Bluffs | | How to Kill a Semi Bluff | When to Fold or Raise | Calling in Bluffing | | All about True Bluffing | When to true Bluff | Bluffs and Positions | | Things to Remember |

 Poker Games Strategies | Theory of Bluffing | Pot Size and Number of Opponents | Checking in Poker | | Raising in Poker | Reading Hands | The Pace of Play and Position |