When Not to Semi Bluff

As we have seen, a semi-bluff can be profitable because it sometimes works as a bluff (when your opponent folds the best hand) and sometimes lets you improve to the best hand (when your opponent calls). It is the combination of these circumstances that makes the semi-bluff profitable. Therefore, it is important to realize that you usually don't semi-bluff if you are sure you are going to be called. Why? Because then the bluff aspect of your bet has vanished, you are betting only for value, and it is clearly incorrect to put more money in the pot on a hand you know to be the underdog. The only exception to this principle may occur in seven-card stud and razz, as we saw earlier, when your semi-bluff confuses your opponent on later rounds as he watches your board develop into what looks like the best hand.

It is also a good idea to semi-bluff less often when you are last to act, especially if many players have checked ahead of you. Not only do you have the opportunity to give yourself a free card in last position, but it's possible that somebody ahead of you was sandbagging with a big hand and will check-raise when you bet. In contrast, when you are in first position, you would be more inclined to bet with a semi-biuffing hand. Since you can't assure yourself of a free card in first position, you might as well become the aggressor and bet when the situation warrants it.

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