Double Barrelling Strategy

So you missed the flop, put in a continuation bet and still got called by an opponent. What do you do now?

Well, the majority of the time what you need to do is continue that aggression. Double-barrelling (betting a second bluff) is an increasingly necessary move in No Limit Holdem that is becoming essential even in the micro-stakes games. The majority of online poker players have now adapted to the robotic Ax continuation bet.

In addition, they are overall playing more optimally and calling you off lighter. Put short, if your cBet% is 80% or higher than the regulars at the $0.25/$1 stakes and above will take notice and start floating your bluffs more often with a wider range of hands. This is very bad for your game since in effect it reduces the profitability of bluffing whilst also meaning that you won’t win as many pots.

What you need to start doing to take your game to the next level and defend yourself from floaters is to start double-barrelling the turn. When you double barrel the turn you actually give yourself a much better chance of winning an even bigger pot and folding your opponents. Even TAG players will usually not be afraid to fold their Ax/mid-pair and drawing hands to a half-pot continuation bet on the flop. However the antes are much higher when it comes to calling a bet on the turn. Hands like Ax/Kx, mid-pairs, straight/flush draws and over cards are frankly impossible to play out of position if you get raised on the turn. This makes bluffing far more profitable here and gives you a good chance of folding most players with only semi-decent hands.

Another reason why opponents will commonly fold to a double-barrel on the river is that after seeing you bet the flop (and possibly pre-flop) they know that they’re likely going to meet another value bet on the river. Most mid-stack opponents will end up pot-committed calling a double-barrel and will be more willing to let their hand go at this stage. In MTTs the average stack is worth only about 50BBs during the middle stages and as the antes kick in so double-barrelling becomes even more effective.

When the Double Barrel the Board

The best cards to double barrel on the turn are always over cards to the board. For example, double barrelling the Ace on K-10-6 or the Queen on a J-5-3 board. Over cards are the best for double-barrelling because betting on them improves your perceived hand strength whilst reducing your opponent’s equity in the board. It makes it harder for opponents without TPTK or the nuts to call you. If he called you on the flop with top-pair then he’s now going to have to call your turn bet with 2nd pair. 2nd pair on the flop becomes 3rd pair and so forth. By betting on 2 or even 3 consecutive streets you are giving a lot of information away about the strength of your hand. More so in micro-stakes games you’ll be getting folds around the table.

Position is also key to a good bluff. In order to double-barrel profitably you need to have position on your opponent (i.e. being able to see what he does before it’s your turn to act). Bluffing becomes a lot more successful once you’ve witness your opponent check and show weakness. In advanced no limit holdem strategy it is also a lot harder for an opponent to float your bet with a semi-draw out of position. Imagine for instance that an opponent calls a second-barrel out of position with 67 on a board 106J8. This is easily good enough to call a c-bet with, and he has a drawing hand sure (gut-shot straight and bottom-pair), but if he fails to complete his straight draw or improve his hand on the river than he will be forced to check/fold against the turn of play. Hence, by double-barrelling in these situations you will be able to fold even semi-decent drawing hands like mid-pairs. You might be surprised by just how many opponents will fold over to you with better hands in micro-stakes ring table games too.

Just to finish this post off, you need to be aware that the worst cards to double-barrel are the ones that pair to the board e.g. 6 to 6J2. These cards will generally favour your opponent’s holdings and hit their c-bet calling range more often.

This article was contributed by Adam who has just launched a new gambling site for iPhone users that includes an iPhone Poker App.

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