What is a ‘Semi-Bluff’?
In the casino, a ‘semi-bluff’ is a half-bluff – the player bets on their hand even though it is not currently strong, because they know it has a good chance of being improved later in the game. Therefore, the bluff is only needed in the early stages. If the draw is completed or the turn comes good, the player can continue to bet according to their earlier bluff.
To a large extent, poker is a game of chance – players are dealt cards at random and these cards dictate how the rest of the game will be played. When a poker game is in session, there will be lots of different hands at the table, of varying strengths. If all those hands played through to the showdown, the one which ranks highest against the standard poker table will take the pot. However, there are lots of opportunities for a weaker hand to win, or for the strongest hand to lose.
If playing a straight game with no bluffs, a player will put money into the pot based on what they hold – a strong hand would produce a raise, a moderate hand would suggest a call, and a bad one would cause the player to fold. However, players can bluff or mislead their opponents and act as though their cards are different to what they hold. This is the skill element of the game and it can mix up who actually wins each hand.
A ‘semi-bluff’ is a situation where the player has made an early bluff, because their hand has a good chance of improvement. For example, holding the outside straight 6-7-8-9 means the player can find any 5 or 10 to complete their hand – it is a strong ‘drawing hand’ which can be completed on the draw or at the river. A player might make a big play, such as a raise, to bluff that they have a good hand. When they complete the hand, they can continue without bluffing.