Advantages of the Semi Bluff

First, the semi-bluff tends to make your opponent play incorrectly according to the Fundamental Theorem of Poker. 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 in fact the best hand at the moment, by betting you are not making


the mistake of giving worse hands free cards. As we saw in the previous chapter, 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 game. For example, suppose in seven-card stud you started with:

opponent with

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