waiting for the turn to semi-bluff

Sometimes a semi-bluff raise on the TURN adds much more fold equity than a raise on the FLOP.About ten years ago prolifi...

Posted Dec 25, 2016


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

Sometimes a semi-bluff raise on the TURN adds much more fold equity than a raise on the FLOP.

About ten years ago prolific 2+2er BalugaWhale put forth a poker theorem that stated, “You should strongly re-evaluate the strength of one-pair hands in the face of a raise on the turn.”

If you have played any considerable time at the mid and low stakes of live No Limit Holdem you understand how accurate this theorem reflects the game today. Usually, if someone raises your bet on the turn especially if they just called the flop, they have stronger than a one pair hand. I can count the number of times on one hand that I have seen a player check-raise the turn as a bluff in the last year at $5-$10 and usually if they are bluffing they are doing so as a huge semi-bluff where they have decent equity (like a 15 out draw) with one card to come.

Players usually fall into two different types when playing draws. Some players play big draws very aggressively on the flop putting their opponents to the test right away, and then barreling off. Others will play their hands more passively, not putting money into the pot until they make their hand. But very rarely will you run into someone that waits until the turn to make their semi-bluff, sort of as a delayed action, especially if they do not pick up additional equity in their draw. But, players at the mid stakes to low levels of live poker have not adjusted to the fact that pulling a delayed semi-bluff on the turn with a front door draw would add maximum fold equity.

For example a player with either K Q or A 6 calls a preflop raiser from in or out of position. The flop comes T 6 3 and the player with a draw calls a bet. The turn comes the 7 and the preflop raiser bets again. It is so rare now for you ever to see the drawing player raise the turn to represent 89 or 45. In fact, in real time, I would most likely range the turn raising player with a huge made hand that was slowplaying the flop, a made hand that the turn filled like 77, 89 or T7, or on the rare case a draw that has now picked up additional equity like J 9.

Last week I wanted to test out delayed semi-bluffing and got into a good situation. An unknown, loose recreational player limped into the pot from the cutoff with about a $700 stack, I covered him and raised to $40 with 3 4 from the button. All others folded and we saw a flop headsup of Q J 2. Surprisingly, my opponent lead into me for $65. As a gut reaction I wanted to raise this “donk” lead but quickly realized that with the awkward stack sizes, if he did call my raise, I would be left with very little barreling ability on later streets to the point where my opponent might check raise me all-in on the turn if he decided to go with his hand. So I decided to just call.

The turn brought a 6 giving me additional equity in my draw. My opponent now bet $105 and I quickly moved him all-in making it look like I was slowplaying the flop and or waiting for a safe card to go with a hand like AQ. My opponent tanked for several minutes and then finally folded a queen face up. The fact that I waited until the turn definitely added fold equity to my semi-bluff and I was able to properly leverage the short effective stack sizes by waiting to make my aggressive action.

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