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Game Theory on Semi-Bluffing

24 February 2009, By:
Semi-bluffing is an important weapon in any poker player's arsenal. Let's see how and why it works from a theoretical point of view.

If you are not capable of a semi-bluff in poker, you not only limit your options and your ability to win pots, you are also making yourself into a more predictable poker player.

No strong player fails to have semi-bluffing in his arsenal to some extent.

How Semi Bluffing Works

A semi bluff in poker is a situation in which you bet when you do not have the best hand. However, you do have a hand that has a chance to improve to the best hand, such as a flush or straight draw.

You don't mind if everyone folds since they are folding superior hands. However, if they call, you still have a number of outs to win what is now a large pot.

Game Theory and Semi Bluffing

Game theory dictates that you make plays that optimize your chances of success. Semi bluffing is an approved tool according to game theory because it gives you multiple chances to win.

Without semi bluffing, you can only win if you hit your hand. With semi bluffing, you can win if the opponent fold or if he/she hits his hand.

Other Thoughts About Semi Bluffing With Regard to Game Theory

Game theory also dictates that you randomize your play so that opponents cannot develop specific strategies against you. This means that you should not semi-bluff every time and should in fact randomize your semi-bluffs with a certain frequency.

While Doyle Brunson is one of the greatest players of all time, he semi-bluffs consistently. Since televised poker has allowed millions to see how Doyle plays, his tendency can be used against him if he does not adjust his game, as he has in other areas.

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