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Power Poker: The Semi-Bluff

Article written by Michael Cohen
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Any good poker player knows how to pull off a good Semi-Bluff. It should be one of your top weapons at your disposal. Any time you can take the pot by making a semi-bluff, you should. Semi-bluffs should not be overused as other players will take note and know you are on a draw and can easily take the pot away from you. Use it too little and players will know to fold when you bet. The key as with any poker strategy is to mix it up and never become too predictable.

Semi- bluffs are when you have a good draw to a hand that will take down the pot and you bet or check-raise to take the pot now. If your opponent does call, you still have a good chance to still get paid off.

So, if you flop a nut flush draw, a lot of players think this is an opportunity to semi-bluff. It is usually best to just call rather than to check-raise your opponent. If your opponent has connected well with the flop they are probably going to call and pay you off regardless of a check-raise. This way if you do hit your flush on the turn, you still have lots of options open to you or if you miss you can still consider semi-bluffing to take the pot should you think your opponent is weak. You can check-raise sometimes to mix it up, but use this tactic sparingly to keep your opponents guessing.

However, let’s say you have a low flush draw. This is a better opportunity to use your weapon. You are hoping to just take the pot now, rather than to build a big pot that you hope to hit.

Semi- bluffing on the turn is riskier than on the flop as you are down to one card and have lowered your odds but it can be a strong play to call on the flop and then bet out on the turn. Opponents may think there is less chance of you semi-bluffing in this situation and throw away their hand. Sometimes, you will pick up extra outs on the turn which can help with the semi-bluff.

The key to pulling off the semi-bluff is not over using it and picking your spots. Getting a good read on your opponent will help you maximize your timing. A bad semi-bluff could cost you a good amount of your stack.

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