The secret of a good poker player is to vary your wagering criteria during the game to prevent opponents from sensing our cards. In short, pushing when you have good hands and checking with weak hands is not necessarily indicated. But we have to ‘mix’ our game a bit using semi-bluffing.

The semi-bluff consists of a bet after the turn with a hand that is probably not the best hand at the moment, but has a chance of becoming the river.


Suppose we have Q and J of diamonds and that the flop is J of spades, A and 6 of clubs. Suppose the turn is a 2 of hearts. At this point we have the second top pair (pair of Js) and a flush draw on the river.

We suspect that our opponent has an ace in his hand, so we suspect that we don’t have the best hand at the moment, but that we have a good number of useful cards to win the hand on the river.

We count our outs (useful cards):

– 9 cards of residual flowers that would give us a color

– 3 Q cards that would give us the two pair JJ + QQ

– 2 J cards that would give us the set of J.

In total we have 14 outs for a payout percentage of around 32%.

Semi-bluffing gives us 2 victory opportunities:

– Actually get the best point on the river

– Force the opponent to fold his hand

The hope is that our opponent will pass the best hand, but if this does not happen we still have a good chance of making the pot our own. This in practice is the substantial difference with a true bluff is precisely: in bluffing our only goal is to make the opponent fold.

The weight of a semi-bluff should be 50% of the pot, more or less as if you wanted to make a value bet.

Why are you semi-bluffing?

There are various reasons:

– When someone folds, you take their money 100% of the time. By folding your opponent you don’t have to worry about various bad lucks or bad beats. The more you manage to get this result at the table, the longer our game will be successful and the semi-bluff does nothing but increase these possibilities.

– It is more difficult for opponents to read and also gives less indications about our game.

When to do a semi-bluff?

Semi-bluffing is a technique to be used in different situations, but always with the condition of having a better position than the opponent in Texas Hold’em Limit. Without position, the chance to see a free card on the turn is greatly reduced and consequently also the value of the hand.

Once you have a position on the opponent and the straight or flush draw is found on the flop, there are other important factors to consider. First the number of opponents and the strength of the hand: semi-bluffing is almost mandatory against one player, against two it is highly recommended, but in a pot with many players the chances of winning before the end of the hand are very few and the goal must be in these cases to see a free card. The strength of the hand is equally important: two cards like KQ of diamonds followed by JT of diamonds on the flop give us the straight and flush draw and 2 overcards. Although we currently only have one K as a point, we are the favorites in the final pot win.

When not to do a semi-bluff?

– When the opponent is a “maniac” and calls for everything.

– When you have a weak draw like a straight draw with two low cards

– When there have been several raises and counter-raises before us

– When there are many players in the pot and have already invested a lot

– When we have no position

What factors to consider before semi-bluffing?

– If the turn gave us more outs

– If the opponent showed weakness after the flop or turn

– If the turn may have facilitated me from the opponent’s point of view

– If the opponent has not previously shown a particular propensity for check-raise

– If the opponent is not pot-committed by now (that is, if he is too exposed in this hand to the point of calling any bet)

– If I was bluffed into fairly recent previous hands

Most online poker players, especially beginners, think that online poker rooms are rigged. All poker forums are full of messages from users complaining about rigged, piloted or, in their opinion, impossible hands. But their theses are without foundation and we explain why in this article.

Is online poker rigged?

There are many theories of the ‘conspiracy’ of online poker, that is, those who believe that it is all a big scam and that online poker is rigged. List them all would be impossible but we have collected the main typical complaints of online poker players.

  1. The chipleader always wins all-ins.

According to the prosecution, this would happen because to quickly end the tournaments so as to start others and collect further commissions. A rather bizarre theory because:

– servers don’t need to close one game to open another

– to speed up the game the poker rooms could simply lower the chips, the levels and jump blinds in the structure.

The explanation here is very simple: the chip leader is often such because he is the best at the table. Furthermore, the psychological aspect is not to be underestimated: being eliminated by the chip leader is an event that surely remains engraved in the mind of those who lose more than they otherwise do, an all-in won against the chipleader.

  1. Once I make the cashout (ie the withdrawal), then I don’t win anymore

According to advocates of this theory, the poker rooms would be fierce against those who withdraw a big win. Never more wrong: in fact, the poker rooms earn regardless of who wins, they would have no reason to punish those who make the cash-out (which, however, bookmakers do more and more often).

  1. Poker rooms make sure that strong points meet well beyond normal

Many believe in this theory by claiming that strong hands are served in online poker that cannot be folded, thus increasing the thrill and speeding up the games. Often, however, one forgets that playing at a table of 10 (which rarely happens in live poker) it is much more likely that 2 or more players have a strong hand. In addition, in the live game the percentage of strong points is the same but in the online game many more hands are played and, therefore, the perception is different.

  1. Regular players have an advantage

Even this theory has no reason to be founded. Paradoxically, the poker room would gain benefits if all funds were leveled out among all players. However, the fact that the poker room software is based on RNG (Random Numbers Generator) tested by third parties, ensures that the cards are served in a completely random way. All online poker rooms actually have certificates that guarantee with absolute certainty the randomness of their algorithms, otherwise they could not enter the market.

  1. In online there are more bad beats than normal

The supporters of this theory are generally those who think that a hand with AA mathematically ensures the victory or that, being in a position of slight advantage on the river, they believe they have already won the hand without having any knowledge of the calculation of the probabilities.

Having said that, it must be reiterated however that online poker is not the best of clarity and that it suffers from some chronic problems that the poker rooms are trying to remedy thanks to increasingly tighter controls. We are talking about collusion (players at the same table who agree and play in tandem) and Poker Bots (programs that play totally in place of man). There are several types of collusion: account sharing and chip dumping are some popular terms. Anyone who suspects a collusion is always invited to send a report through the support, providing the id of the table and the players sitting at the table. As for the automatic programs, the main advantage of those who put a series of bots to work is not so much that of the profit won at the tables against other players but that of being able to safely grind a huge amount of rakeback without actually sitting at the tables.

Anyone caught to use collusion or poker bots to take advantage of opponents is banned from the poker network and funds in the account can be frozen for any refunds to players penalized by their behavior.

When it’s your turn to act, and betting seems a good idea to you, the first question to ask yourself is “What am I doing by betting here?”. Do I often get paid less? Will I be able to fold a better hand? Do I need protection?

To answer these questions and make the right decisions, we offer a 3-step reflection.

Step 1: Range analysis

Depending on the actions you and your opponent have taken from the start of the hand, it is possible to assess a range of hands for each of you. This is called a range. Each decision at each of the streets (flop, turn and river) makes it possible to reduce this range to a number of hands sufficiently small to be able to make a profitable decision in the long term.

For each decision, it is therefore important to ask the following questions:

What is the range of my opponent? What strong hands can he have? What weak hands? etc …

What is my range perceived by my opponent? What strong hands can I have here? What weak hands? etc.

Once these two questions have been answered, it’s time to take the next step.

Step 2: Why bet?

Betting is an investment that you are making and which must be EV + (expectation of positive gains), that is to say profitable in the long term. So there are good reasons for doing it, and here are some.

Reason 1: IN VALUE

Betting in value means betting in the hope of being paid less, ie by a weaker hand. For this to be profitable, you have to dominate a good part of your opponent’s call range.

example 1: you raise the button with 66, the BB call. The flop comes AQ6.

Here your opponent can have all the weakest AXs in the game (he would probably have raised AK, AQ). You therefore largely dominate the naughty call range and can therefore easily bet in value.

example 2: UTG open and you raise in bluff in SB with A2s. The flop comes AQ6.

This time you have top pair and you can tell yourself that betting is a good idea. However, UTG’s call vs 3Bet range is often very strong. If you bet, the only weaker hands that will call are QX and a few straight draws. Checking here is surely a good decision.

Reason 2: IN BLUFF

Bet in bluff means bet to fold a hand better than ours. For this to be profitable, several criteria must be met:

Naughty has many better hands than mine. Indeed it is useless to bluff if very few hands beat you. Might as well try to go to slaughter by checking until the end.

I have a lot of strong hands in my range in this situation. If it is very unlikely that you have a strong hand here, you risk being bluffed very often.

My opponent is able to fold these hands. If you have properly assessed your opponent’s profile and it seems to you to be a calling station, then perhaps it is better to refrain from bluffing it.

If these 3 criteria are met then the bluff will surely be profitable in the long term. The difficulty lies in the evaluation of these criteria which are sometimes subjective.


To put in protection is often associated with a capitalization. You have a relatively strong hand which can lose value on the following streets.

For example, let’s say you have 98 on a 953 board on the flop. There is a significant probability that an overcard, a T or more, appears Turn or River and that this card benefits the game of your opponent.

Making a protective bet can fold a hand like KQ for example and make you win the pot now without risking finding yourself in a complicated situation later.

If on the contrary you have KK on A92, you do not necessarily need protection since no overcard can come to bother you.

Step 3: How much?

It is your range analysis during step 1 that will allow you to determine the appropriate sizing for the situation. The more bluffs you have in your perceived range, the more you will be able to bet.

In general, we will use the same value and bluff sizings, so that our opponent cannot guess our intentions.

The only cases where we will bet more expensive in value is when we want to exploit a calling station trend of our opponent to be able to extract the maximum value.