Most recreational players often make the transition from free poker sites to Real money poker tables without knowing the correct strategies. If you bluff raise, or raise as an absolute bluff with nothing behind it, you are taking a real risk – a risk that you shouldn’t take very often. The best time to do this is when there aren’t any more cards due to come, and when you came close to building the hand that you wanted but just came up short – but you want your opponents to think that you were successful. You’re assuming that your opponent has a fairly good hand and doesn’t really want to fold just because you raise. If you’re playing limit poker the bluff raise can work often enough to build profits only when you’re playing against someone who can make folds when it’s tough to do so. Weaker players are more likely to call that raise no matter what sort of hand he has.
Bluff raises play a more significant role in no-limit poker (Texas Hold’em for example). 1982 poker champion Jack Straus was famous for his skill with successful bluff raising. Just because they’re more common in no-limit poker than limit poker doesn’t make this strategy any easier or less tricky to put into action, but it does make them more expensive if they fail.
An intermediate strategy is the semi-bluff raise. This is used more often by the skilled poker players. Just like with the pure bluff raise, you offer a semi-bluff raise in order to win the pot immediately. However, unlike the pure bluff, you do this when there are still more cards coming and when your hand can still improve. This gives you a chance to draw better than your opponent and carry home the pot when the call comes.
The semi-bluff raise also provides a sound defense against an opponent who might be semi-bluffing. If you are raising a potential semi-bluffer, he generally has to dump a semi-bluff hand. If he calls after you raise, you should assume that he has the quality of hand that he seems to. An additional advantage to the semi-bluff raise is that you have learned something. Your opponent might be worried that your hand is the best, checking to you when the next round comes and providing you with the opportunity to grab a free card.
This means that even though your primary goal for raising might not come to fruition – causing your opponent to fold – you often achieve other goals, like getting more information, as well as a free card. Also, when you raise in order to eliminate worse hands but go through a call from one of your opponents, you’ve at least added more cash into a pot that you believe you are the most likely to win. This doesn’t mean that you should always raise just to get that free card, though. Consider your position – if you are not last but you check, you have revealed some weakness. Players behind you with a strong hand are likely to bet, keeping you away from that free card. Remembering elements like this makes the bluff raise and the semi-bluff raise more useful weapons.