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  • November 24, 2020

What is Semi-Bluff?

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A semi-bluff is nothing more than a bet with a hand that’s probably not the best one right now, but has a pretty high likelihood of improving to the best hand on subsequent rounds.
Verb
To wager aggressively with a hand that has a moderate but unfavorable chance of winning in a showdown or with a drawing hand, with the intent of causing all opponents to fold but retaining the possibility of a win if a showdown does occur.
Noun
The act of representing a marginal hand as a strong hand through aggressive wagering, intending to cause all opponents to fold but retaining the possibility of a win if a showdown does occur; the act of semi-bluffing.
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Why is a semi-bluff a good poker betting strategy?
The profit you earn from playing semi-bluffing poker comes from having two ways in which you can win the pot. If your opponent folds to your bluff bet, then your bluff will work and you get paid off. While if you actually make your draw you win by having the best hand.
This makes it hard to counter semi-bluff poker plays because it is difficult to determine when your opponent actually has a hand, when he is pure bluffing and when he is chasing a monster draw. If a player varies his play correctly, he can keep his opponents guessing.
Of all the species of poker animal out there, the tight aggressive players will find semi-bluff poker betting strategies more profitable because fewer players in general will call their bluffs. Their table image has been cultivated to show a player who aggressively plays a few good hands. Thus opponents will often fold to their semi-bluff bets.
Semi-Bluffing Done Right
Because you flop draws relatively often it’s important to know when a semi-bluff is appropriate, and when it’s going to cost you hard-earned money.
The key point to remember is that with semi-bluffing you’ve got two kinds of equity: Pot equity and fold equity.
Pot equity refers to the portion of the pot to which you’re entitled based solely on the strength of your cards. If you’ve got a flush draw on the flop and there’s $100 in the pot your pot equity is roughly $35, because you’re going to hit your flush about one out of three times.
Fold equity refers to the value you get when your opponent folds and you win what’s in the pot without having to hit that flush draw.
So, naturally, the more of either type of equity you have, the more money you’re going to make with your semi-bluffs.
Pot equity is easy to calculate. Click through to our strategy lesson on the subject and learn to calculate your pot equity.
The more pot equity you have, the less fold equity you need, since you’ll be winning the pot by making the best hand more often.
Understanding your fold equity, however, is more difficult. There’s no simple formula to follow but there are a few key factors that must be considered.
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