A Semi-bluff in poker is when you are an underdog to hit a draw and complete a hand, but you bet anyway. There's a chance that you'll hit your draw, but the real reason you do it is to elicit folds. Even if you hit your draw, don't forget that it's possible you are still not winning the hand. Because of this you need to pick your targets carefully. If you make semi-bluffs too often, it will be counter-productive as you end up only charging yourself extra money to hit your draw.

The main reason you semi-bluff is deception. You want your opponents to think you have already hit your hand and fold to you, but if they don't, and you get a call, you might end up with a good hand. The other advantage to the deception is when you get a call, usually you'll go to a cheap showdown and your opponents will all see that you bet with essentially nothing.

The good thing about this, when used conservatively, is that they won't be able to read you as well, and will have a hard time deciding when you raise whether you have something or are merely bluffing, which means they're more likely to call you with weaker hands later when you actually do have a good hand. Once you've been called and people aren't respecting your raises any more, you can slow down your semi-bluffing and raise more often when you want calls.

Not all opponents will respond the way you like to a semi-bluff. Some may not know what a semi-bluff is or may not recognize it when you do it. The best players to semi-bluff are the tight players who don't use any tricks but just play their hands. The worst players to try to bluff are the people who call almost anything, and old dogs who've will recognize the trick when you try it.

Against these players never try to semi-bluff, because it will be a waste of chips. Eventually, learning tricks that will work against these tougher opponents will be necessary. For now, pick your battles and just use the basic tricks when they are likely to work.

You can only semi-bluff before the flop, after the flop, or on the turn, and the earlier you start the cheaper it tends to cost to pull it off, but there is also more chance that you'll get called. Waiting takes more chips, but will get more folds. Another thing to consider is that if your opponent is still playing after the flop or on the turn, they think they have a good hand or at least a reason to still be in the hand. If they think they have you beat, they won't fold often enough to make a semi-bluff effective.

When you make a semi-bluff pre-flop, it's basically an attempt to steal the blinds with a decent, but not great hand. A pre-flop raise with a hand like 4 5 suited, this is a semi-bluff, because although your hand is pretty weak, there's a chance that it could become powerful if you get called and the right flop hits, with both a flush and a straight chance.

If you find an opponent willing to fold easily, a semi-bluff can be your ticket to extra winnings if you pick your target well and don't over-use it if you see it not working.