Never bluffing in a game of online poker is resigning yourself to being a loser. You just cannot win without stealing a few pots every now and again. On the other hand, if you bluff too often, your opponents will pick up on it and you will be called out.
What is a semi-bluff in online poker?
A semi-bluff is nothing more than a bet with a hand that’s probably not the best one available but which has a high likelihood of improving to the best hand in subsequent hands. Drawing hands especially straight and flush draws fall conveniently in this category.
One of the keys to winning online poker is selective aggressive which almost always pays off in the long run. Semi-bluffing is one way to be both selective and aggressive. By betting drawing hands that have a decent change of improvement, selectively aggressive poker players give themselves two great chances of winning.
When an opponent folds, the semi-bluffer takes down the pot right there. Even if called, his hand can always improve in the next two betting rounds.
You can’t semi-bluff with any hand
You have also got to be careful as you can’t semi-bluff with any hand because any hand usually doesn’t have the power to improve enough to be a long-term favourite.
Semi-bluffing increases more bluffing opportunities
If you are playing against poker experts, it actually increases your chances of bluffing effectively but only if you have hands such as 8 – 3. If you do decide to bluff by betting a hopeless hand when two suited cards flop, you can bet again if a third suited card appears on the turn or the river.
Bluffing Recreational Players at the Poker Table
One of the oldest rules in the book is to never bluff recreational players at online poker. However, if you never bluff these players at all, then you would be missing out on potentially profitable situations.
We are aware that this group of players enjoys calling more than anything. Once you learn how to read their actions, then it will be easy to pick pots when it is obvious that they don’t have anything with which to call you.
The Flop Donk bet
One particular trait that makes recreational players stand out in online poker is the way they limp into the pot with a range of hands. This is why we suggest that you raise them, especially in position with an equally wide range of hands.
Usually when they make a donk bet, it’s a clear sign that they have very little. They will often have a weak pair hand or a long-shot draw at the most. You can easily take down the pot right then and there with a simple raise.
You should raise donk bets with a wide range when you have connected with the flop in any way.
Bluffing on the Turn and River
You will occasionally get called as well. In that case you need to remember that they’re most likely hanging on with a weak pair or a weak draw. It doesn’t mean that you can’t win the pot.
If the draws miss on the turn and a scare card falls, you should have a go when they check to you. If they donk again, then they have some pair hand and it would be best to avoid bluffing then again you should just call the bet if you have any equity at all.
Bluffing with Board Texture in Online Poker
Board texture is probably the defining concept of Texas Hold’em as the community cards determine which hands are possible and in what frequencies. Many online poker players understand board texture on a superficial matter. Board pairs make full houses possible, three suited cards make a flush possible while high cards are more likely to hit hands than low cards.
Truth is that there are many possible flops that are completely unique and offer a different mix of hand distributions. If you learn to understand these distributions better than your opponents do, then you will discover many bluffing opportunities that your opponents will miss.
Here’s an example. Compare an Ace of diamonds, 8 of clovers, 3 of clubs, to King of diamonds, 8 of clovers and 3 of spades. Let’s assume that our competitors will play 40% of hands preflop. This is a much higher number than is theoretically correct in a nine-handed full ring game.
Furthermore, a greater proportion of hits on the king-high flop are weak hits – pairs less than a king that most players will release on the turn. This means that you can fire the turn and expect your opponents to fold more often than not.
In small stakes poker games, you can often tell if it will profitable to bluff a flop and turn just by glancing at the board texture and the number of opponents. You don’t have to know much about your opponents and you don’t even have to look at your hand. That’s a power that should never be undermined.