July 12, 2011 by  
Filed under News

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No Limit: The Double-Barrel

July 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

No Limit: The Double-Barrel

As we become more experienced in NL we start to make use of the Continuation Bet, which, in a nutshell, is when we follow up a pre-flop raise with another bet on the flop, regardless of whether we made a hand. In an ideal world we are then rewarded by taking down the pot then and there when the one or two remaining players fold. However, in the real world what happens all too often is that our ‘cbet’ is called and we find when the Turn card appears that we still have no hand.

This is when we are faced with an awkward decision: do we continue the aggression with a further bet, or check out and hope for the best? Not surprisingly there isn’t a definitive right or wrong answer, but (and perhaps also not too surprisingly) if we err too much on the side of caution we’re simply giving up on opportunities to take the pot. Of course if we make a habit of the double-barrel, or fire when circumstances suggest we shouldn’t, then we will be undone by predictability, poor play or both.

While it is possible for the double-barrel strategy to work against several players, chances are that against three opponents, for example, someone will have caught enough of the flop to justify staying in contention, so here we will deal with a few tips to keep in mind for those situations involving at the most two opponents who pay to see the flop.

One key factor is the board itself. Some flops will be much more likely than others to have connected with the opposition’s hand, in which case alarm bells should be going off, while other uncoordinated, raggy flops tend to miss a caller and are thus ripe for an initial continuation bet and often the double barrel.

Let’s say we get a lone caller to our Button pre-flop raise and the flop of Kd 6c 7c fails to connect to our hand. Our opponent check-calls and we see the Turn bring an unwelcome Qh. There are now simply too many possible good hands, from made big pairs and better to flush and straight draws, meaning that it is highly unlikely we can take the pot with a bet here. Time to be realistic and keep the powder dry.

Now for an example of a board that shouts out for a double-barrel. This time the flop is J82 rainbow and it is significant already that our pre-flop raise and first cbet were indicative of strength. When the Turn brings the 5 of the remaining suit, it is far from likely, compared with the K, Q and suited connectors of our first sample hand, that the opposition still has much of an interest in this board. By betting the Turn our line is consistent with a range of hands from an overpair, AJ, JJJ, 888 and even the cheeky 222. Indeed unless our opponent actually holds one of these or a decent Jack, then a bet here should induce a fold (even the latter hand would probably fold).

It is imperative that the size of the bet is big enough to get the job done, so assuming our flop cbet was between ½ to 2/3 of the pot, then now we should be firing in the region of ¾ of the pot – failure to bite the bullet (my apologies) when double barrelling is a sin.

Note that these examples are pure ‘bluff’ double barrels; with an appropriate balance we should be able to integrate similar betting lines when we hit or when we flop/turn big draws.

Finally, don’t forget to keep an eye on stack sizes in order to avoid the embarrassing situation of firing out bluff-bets until the opposition has practically run out of ammunition and is going to be pleasantly surprised after calling with whatever’s left.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD)
32Red Poker Ambassador