• Advanced Shortcuts for All-in Semi-Bluffing in No-Limit Hold'em

    Added - Aug. 18, 2014 Poker

    Being able to do calculations in your head is something that a lot of people think is out of their grasp when it comes to poker. However, we're going to show you how to do a very complicated calculation in just a couple of steps with an important shortcut. The general idea is that you want to be able to decide how often your opponent has to fold to make an all-in semi-bluff against a single opponent profitable. Being able to make this play is extremely important in a lot of no-limit hold'em situations, and we're going to show you how to do it.

    There's one other shortcut you need to know first, and that's how to find out how often someone has to fold on a regular bluff. You'll be making a bet into a certain pot size. Divide the size of your bet by what the pot will be after you make your bet to get how often the opponent has to fold. For example, if you're betting $8 and the pot is $12, then the pot will be $20 after you bet, so you'll need your opponent to fold at least 8/20 of the time (or 40 percent of the time) for your bet to be profitable.

    So to do this with an all-in semi-bluff, you need to estimate how often you're going to win if your opponent calls anyway. So say you're semi-bluffing $8 into a pot of $12, and you expect to win 20 percent of the time your opponent calls. After the opponent calls, the pot will be $28, and you'll expect to get back 20 percent of that on average anyway which is $5.60. Subtract this from your bet size to get what you're actually risking on the play. Instead of risking $8, your risk is really just $8 - $5.60, or $2.40.

    This risk is what you're going to put back into the original formula as your new bet size for this semi-bluff short-cut. So if you were betting $2.40 into a pot of $12, you'd do $2.40/$14.40 to get 1/6 or 16.67 percent of the time that your opponent has to fold for your semi-bluff to be profitable. Just remember that this doesn't necessarily mean semi-bluffing is the right play because checking could turn out to have a higher value than shoving, especially if you're in position and you get to see a free card when you check.