The Semi Bluff Raise
 
While the confrontation just described shows the difficulty of defending against the semi-bluff, it also demonstrates one of the best defensive counter-strategies against it -the semi-bluff raise. Notice that when you bet into a with a pair of 9s in the hole and K,5 showing, you were semi-bluffing yourself. You were trying to represent kings in the hope that your opponent would fold with a pair of queens, a pair of jacks, or a worse hand. It turns cut your opponent did have a worse hand - a pair of 7s and a three-flush. But what did he do instead of folding? He raised. He made a semi-bluff raise into a possible pair of kings with a three flush and a small pair. Of course, if you had really had two kings, he'd be in trouble. But since you were semi-bluffing yourself, as your opponent suspected, his semi-bluff raise turned the tables on you. It put you on the defensive and him in the driver's seat.

To elucidate the effect of this type of play further, we'll talk about stealing the antes. Stealing antes is one form of the semi-bluff. A player raises immediately, representing a strong hand, and makes it too expensive, given the size of the pot, for a mediocre hand to continue. A simple example would be from seven-card razz, where the high card typically has to make a small bet to start the action and a low card usually raises.

Let's say I have a low card showing, with a second low card and a king in the hole. One player behind me also has a low card showing. With a two-card low, I do not have a legitimate hand, but nevertheless, I'm in a profitable semi-bluffing situation because I suspect that if I raise, one of two things can happen. The
low card might fold behind me, in which case I win the antes immediately since the high cards will also fold. Or the low card might call, in which case I'm in trouble.

However, all is not lost because my bet was not a pure bluff but a semi-bluff. I have an extra chance to win if I catch a little card on the next round and my opponent catches a big card.

When I bet at that point, my opponent is likely to fold. If he calls, well, we both presumably have three-card lows, so I can't be too much of an underdog. I may still make the best low hand and win in the showdown.

When you semi-bluff, then, you are looking to win in one of three ways -by making your opponents fold, by catching a scare card on the next round to make them fold, or by drawing out on them and producing the best hand in the showdown. This combination of possibilities makes you the favorite when you raise.

But what happens when, instead of calling my raise, that low card behind me reraises? Suddenly my semi-bluff has been shattered.

When you reraise a possible semi-bluff in such situations, your opponent is pretty much forced to fold when you've caught him without a legitimate hand. For instance, in seven-card stud a player with


may raise against a jack showing in an attempt to steal the antes. Even if the jack calls, the semi-bluffer may catch an ace or a king on the next card, giving him the best hand against two jacks, or he may catch a scare card like a queen suited with the king. Therefore, you should usually reraise with a decent hand like two jacks. If the king is semi-bluffing and doesn't have two jacks beat, you are applying pressure on him to fold or call with the worst hand. Of course, we can take this situation a step further. The original semi-bluffer could make a semi-bluff reraise if he thinks there's a reasonable chance the obvious pair of jacks will give up and fold.

Observe, though, that in none of these instances is a simple call any kind of a defense when you suspect you're up against a possible semi-bluff. You should not say to yourself, "This may be a semi-bluff, and I may have the best hand. Therefore, I'll call." When you call, you are faced with the problem that your opponent may subsequently make the best hand if he doesn't have it already or he may look like he's made it. However, when you raise, you probably take away these latter two possibilities. An opponent will call - or perhaps reraise - with a legitimate hand, but he will very possibly fold if he was semi-bluffing. Even if he does call, it is with the worse hand. Another advantage to your raise is that it will deter your opponent from semi-bluffing against you in the future, and still another is that you are getting more money in the pot when an opponent calls with a worse hand.

To repeat, when you suspect an opponent may be semi-bluffing, you still have to fold most of your hands - like that pair of 9s earlier in the topic. However, when you have a hand that is worth a call, in most cases you should raise. This is just one of many situations in online poker games where, when folding is not the best play, raising is, and calling is the worst of the three alternatives.

There is a situation that frequently comes up in hold 'em which calls for a semi-bluff raise. You're in last position, and you pick up something like


a pretty fair starting hand. Suddenly the man to your right raises, and you suspect he's using his late position to try to steal the antes. Since your hand is too good to fold, you must reraise. You must not let the first raiser have that extra double chance of winning on a semi-bluff. Similarly, as we saw earlier, if you're the last low card in razz and the next-to-last low card raises, very possibly as a semi-bluff, you cannot simply call with a decent hand and give your opponent two extra ways of winning. Even with a hand as marginal as


you must reraise to make that player fold or pay with his poor hands.

You gain another advantage when you make this kind of response. You do not want to have an opponent who is semi-bluffing with the correct frequency. By picking off his semi-bluffs, you reduce the times he'll try it on those occasions when he ought to. Your reraise has forced him to think twice about semi-bluffing in the future.
 
Payout Schedule

 
A graduated prize schedule, where first place gets a certain percentage, second place gets a percentage, and so on, is a different kind of game than a regular cash game. Depending on the exact situation, it can be a lot different. In a cash game, if you win all the chips you get all the money. In a tournament with a graduated payout, if you win all the chips you might get half the money, probably less than half, depending on the particular payout structure.

What this means is that one chip isn't always worth one chip. Sometimes it's worth more, sometimes less. Its actual value depends on the payout schedule and the actual chip count of every player competing in the event. It doesn't depend on just your chip count, but on how the other chips are distributed among the other players.

Generally, each chip you add to your stack is worth less than the last chip you added.
 
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