Texas Hold'em No Limit Advanced

Double Barrelling

8,404 Views 4 Comments on 26/3/12

We examine the 3 reasons to double barrel: For value, protection and as a bluff and evaluate the reasons for using each.

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What is double-barrelling?
Value
Protection
Bluff/Semi-bluff

What is double-barrelling?

Doublepokerimage barrelling or firing a “second barrel” refers to a situation where you fire a continuation bet on the turn after continuation betting the flop. I.e you are the preflop aggressor and decide to bet both flop and turn.

There are several reasons why you would want to fire a second barrel –

- Value
- Protection
- Bluff/Semi-bluff

Whether you choose to double-barrel in these situations will be dependant on a number of factors such as:

- Position
- Villain's range
- Villain's tendencies

- Pot equity / Fold equity
- River plans

Value

This is probably the easiest situation to recognize. You have a strong made hand and want to bet again on the turn for value. In order for a value bet to be profitable, your opponent’s calling range must consist of worse hands more than 50% of the time.

Example 1

Effective stacks are 100bb. You are OOP on the flop in a single-raised pot with kk on a k108. You fire a c-bet for value with your top set.

Turn is 5. You fire a second barrel for value.

(This is an excellent spot to double-barrel for value. There are a huge amount of worse hands in villain’s range that may continue to another bet. Any Kx, any straight draws (JQ,AJ,AQ,9J,79,Q9 etc, any spade draws (both spades or backdoor-diamonds), any 2pair (KT,T8), slowplayed AA,TT,88.)

In this particular case, you have the nuts on the turn. So long as there are plenty of worse hands that your opponent may call a second-barrel with, you can continue to barrel with hands that are relatively much weaker.

You will often be able to barrel wider for value in position. You don’t need to fear a huge river bet from your opponent if you check to him. In position on the river it will often be your decision whether a third bet goes in or you check-back.

Example 2

Effective stacks are 100bb. You are in position in a single raised pot with qq on a k108. You fire a continuation bet. Villain calls.

(The hand is the same as the previous example apart from 2 subtle differences. 1) You are now in position. 2) Your hand is relatively a lot weaker, you only have 2nd pair as opposed to top-set. There are still plenty of worse pairs and draws that can call, so you fire a cbet for value.)

Turn is 5. Villain checks and you fire a second barrel for value.

(Some of the time your opponent is going to have a Kx or better in which case you are betting with the worse hand. If you consider your opponent’s range in his entirely however, they are likely more hands like straight-draws and flush-draws compared to Kx+. Despite not having top pair, this is an excellent spot to continue with a second-barrel.)

When NOT to barrel for value

Any time your opponents range for calling your double-barrel consists of better hands 50% of the time or more it won’t be a profitable situation to value bet. Your hand might even be a favourite against your opponents range for getting to the turn, but by betting you isolate yourself against your opponents calling-range which has you beat.

Example 1

Effective stacks are 100bb. You are in-position in a single-raised pot with 44on a k82. You fire a continuation bet. Villain calls.

(You think it’s likely you have the best hand on such a dry board, and you want to bet to extract thin value from A-high and protect yourself from any hand with overcard equity. This is also a good board for folding out some better hands like 66, but for the purposes of this example we are doing it for thin-value/protection)

The turn comes q. Villain checks, you check.

(This is not really a spot you can continue barrelling for value. You estimate that villains calling range is going to consist mainly of hands that have you beat. Even if you still have the best hand some amount of the time, villain is probably folding nearly all his worse hands to a second barrel. Once in a while it may happen; perhaps villain will call a second barrel with a hand like AJs which turned a straight/flushdraw, but even these hands have a huge amount of equity against your 44. You could even choose to bet here as a bluff against certain villains, but value betting is likely out of the question.)

Another reason you might choose not to fire a second-barrel with some of your value hands is when you think check/raising or check/calling the turn is going to have a higher expectation. Usually this is going to be villain-specific. The villain in the following hand loves to float dry flops in position very wide and then steal on the turn.

Example 2

Effective stacks are 100bb. You are OOP COvsBU in a single-raised pot. You hold aa on a j22. You fire a continuation bet. Villain calls.

(The board is very dry but you know there is still plenty of value to be had against an opponent who will float this board with a wide variety of hands – perhaps anything with an overcard or backdoor draw. He is also never going to be folding any pair or better.)

The turn comes 6. You check.

(This is a spot where you could legitimately fire a second barrel for value. However given the large amount of air/float hands in villains range the expectation of check/calling is probably going to be a lot higher. By betting you extract value from Jx and other pairs, but there is a decent chance villain will bet these for thin-value/protection. His large amount of floats like a10 and 910 are probably folding to a second barrel however, but will bet when checked too. A villain like this is floating the flop purely so he can take a stab on the turn; since he has air a whole ton and you have a strong made hand, you may aswell let him.)

Protection

Aspokerimage a brief reminder, protection is a type of thin value bet. However, it’s a value-bet in spot where you don’t necessarily expect to get called. You want to bet however, because your opponents range still has decent equity against your hand. By betting you also make the hand easier to play on a later street. Despite having a hand that is ahead of your opponents range, your opponent folding would still be a decent outcome. Since protection bets are usually somewhat thin, they can occasionally be considered a type of merge bet. (I.e sometimes worse hands may call, but sometimes better hands might fold).

Protection is going to be necessary more often out-of-position where you don’t have the ability to pot control as efficiently with your marginal showdown hand.

Example 1

Effective stacks are 100bb. You open-raise in the SB with 910 BB calls.

Flop is 952. You cbet. Villain calls.

(This is a good spot to cbet. You want to protect your hand against random overcards, and there should be value from worse-pairs/straight-draws.)

The turn is the k. You fire a second barrel for protection.

(This is not really a great card for you given that it brings an overcard to your pair. It’s also the case that villain is not very likely to continue with any of his pure floats to a second barrel here. He may also be folding any of his gutshots and worse pairs. However unless villain was floating with some sort of Kx, there is still a pretty decent chance you have the best hand.

By checking you potentially make the hand very difficult to play, especially if villain decides to fire two barrels. Is he firing two barrels because your range is obviously weak? Or is he firing because he has a value hand?

Firing for value where not too many worse hands are calling obviously has it’s problems. Out-of-position though, protection and playability on later streets sometimes takes precendent. It’s not as if no worse hands can call either, especially if villain is a calling station. There are still a decent amount of worse-pairs/straight-draws/turned-flush-draws that villain can call a second barrel with.)

When NOT to barrel for protection.

In the above example the problem with checking the turn is that we don’t know how villain is going to play on the turn and river. We are not sure whether his turn/river barrelling range are weighted towards value (making it an easy fold), or whether they are weighted towards bluffs (making it an easy call depending on the river card).

If we felt we understood villain’s game extremely well, protection on the turn becomes less important because we can check-call/fold the turn and river with increased efficiency. If for example we knew villain is always firing his better hands on the turn and checking back his pairs/worse-draws we’d have an easy check/fold despite having second pair. Again if we new villain never bluffed the river with his busted draws, we’d possibly have an easy check-fold if he did decide to bet.

We will look at the same hand again, but this time in position. We will see that by virtue of easier pot-control in-position we have other options at our disposal which don’t involve 2nd barrelling the turn for protection!

Example

Effective stacks are 100bb. You open-raise on the BU with 910 BB calls.

Flop is 952. You cbet. Villain calls.

The turn is the k. Villain checks. You check back for pot-control.

Now you are in position, protection becomes less important. You are in control over whether a further bet goes in on the turn, and therefore only need to worry about 1 further potential bet from your opponent on the river, which closes the action.

We’ve also seen there are a number of issues with value-betting again on this k turn. A tight opponent is quite possibly mucking a hand like 67, 78, 34, 5x, 2x, AQ, or 98 (maybe even check-raising if he thinks your range is sufficiently light). A lot of his range has low equity against you, and you might be able to profitably pick off bluffs on the river. If you knew your opponent never bluffed the river you might be able to check/fold. Either way, there is less at risk since you now only need to worry about one additional bet.

He is perhaps unlikely to value-bet a mid-strength hand like 9x on the river, meaning a bet often polarises his range between Kx+ and bluffs. His mid-strength hands are probably either check/calling or check/folding the river; so you may even be able to go for thin value if you felt your opponent would pay you off. A hand like 5x is more likely to call the river than the turn, because villain is closing the action, and your range is weaker after you didn’t barrel the turn.

Betting the turn for protection in this example is still an option, but given our increased ability to pot-control checking back and evaluating on the river is likely going to have a higher expectation.)

Bluffs/Semi-bluffs

Firing a 2nd barrel as a semi-bluff relies on both your fold-equity and pot equity to be profitable. Pure-bluffing relies purely on your fold-equity and should be used sparingly, if at all.

To maximise your fold-equity you should barrel more often against players that have a weak turn-range – often because they like to float the flop very wide. To maximise your pot-equity you want to barrel more often in situations where you pick up equity. You should be conscious on the flop of which cards increase your equity and whether or not you will semi-bluff them depending on your opponent. This can have a bearing on whether you decide to cbet the flop in the first place.

Example

Effective stacks are 100bb. You open raise a7 from the CO. BU calls.

Flop is k64. Hero cbets.

(This is typically a good board to bluff. Villain knows this however and may decide to call slightly wider with hands like 99 or AJ. You are aware that firing a second barrel may often be profitable and that any diamond, 5, 7, 3, 8 will improve your equity and allow you to fire a profitable semi-bluff. If you felt you had less fold equity or that villain’s range was stronger in general you might choose only to barrel diamonds or a 5.)

The turn is 8d. You fire a second-barrel as a semi-bluff.

This is one of the better cards for you since you turn a flush-draw and a gutshot. If your opponent has a hand like 99/AJ he is probably folding to another bet. In the case that your opponent has Kx+ you still have decent equity with a flush-draw, straight/draw, and possible overcard vs a hand like KQ. Your combined fold-equity and pot-equity make the hand profitable.

When NOT to barrel as a bluff/semi-bluff

Semi-bluffing is only going to be profitable if you have sufficient fold equity. There are two main situations where you will not. Either your opponent has a very strong range, or he is a calling station.

In the situation where you have a decent draw, betting and getting raised is often going to be disaster assuming your opponent’s range has your hand in bad shape. Your best option is to check and either hope your opponent checks back, or bets an amount where you have sufficient implied/pot odds to check/call.

Let’s imagine the above example again, but this time against a postflop nit who is not getting past the flop with Kx or better.

Example

Effective stacks are 100bb. You open raise a7 from the CO. BU calls.

Flop is k64. Hero cbets.

(This villain is super-tight postflop, making this an excellent board to bluff. You expect villain’s calling range to include Kx+ only. You believe he is snap folding QQ/JJ/AQ/AJ. Villain is folding so much on the flop that c-betting here is going to be very profitable.)

Turn is the 8. You check.

(You are aware that this is one of the cards that improves your equity. However, barrelling would now be bad. Against a range of better Kxs and sets you have around 30% pot-equity and 0% fold equity. You decide to check/call if you are getting the correct odds but check/fold if you are not)

To Conclude:

We have a considered a number of examples where double-barrelling may or may not be profitable. There is no set answer; it will be dependant on a large number of factors and often conflicting principles. Sometimes a double-barrel which is ok in isolation may be very poor in the context of your overall game strategy and vice-versa.

The key is to consider what you know about villain, decide which principles are the most relevant, and construct your own strategy for double-barrelling!
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w34z3l

I am of British nationality and go by the online alias w34z3l. I am considered one of the top consultants in the field for technical analysis (i.e. database work) and application of game theory concepts to various card games. I make a range of educational content ( ... Read More

Comments

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giantpoker

giantpokeron 29/8/17

valuable topic

The_Strategist

The_Strategiston 4/8/15

The turn has always been a problem street for me, this should certainly help if I can apply it correctly.

Cookie Monster

Cookie Monsteron 7/6/15

Solid, what I needed to help with my 2x strategy

Jon-PokerVIP

Jon-PokerVIPon 3/12/13

One of the best articles i have ever read! I used to 3bet KJ, cbet A44 then give up. I have started to bet around half pot again on the turn and find im facing alot of folds. What hands do you think are folding? Pocket pairs and floats?

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