Pulling off a successful double barrel with an appropriate frequency is pretty important in today’s online no-limit hold’em games. The days of profitably playing your entire range completely straight-forward and face-up after a continuation bet have been long gone for quite a while. However, because firing the second barrel often involves building a pot without a made hand, it’s intimidating for a lot of players. To help make things go smoother, we have a checklist of things you should consider before you double barrel.
But before we get into the specifics, let’s explore the basic poker math behind making a multistreet bluff. At the end of the day, we care about ensuring that our bets are +EV (make us money in the longrun), and double barrel bluffs are no different.
Double Barrel Bluffing Math
You can use the simple EV calculation for the outright EV of any bet. But when you want to analyze the EV of an entire play, such as a barrel across two streets, you need to use the complex equation. Here is a prime example of doing that using an example from The Poker Math & Preflop Workbook.
You could expand this equation out even further to account for things like implied odds, reverse implied odds, etc. – but this is enough to get a general gauge of a double barrel’s profit.
Now, when it comes to specific barrels, use this list to keep yourself focused on the key variables for finding outright profitable barrels in your future sessions.
1. Was the Turn a Scare Card?
When bluffing, the turn card can be pretty important in terms of giving you some fold equity. The dynamic you want to look for is when a lot of your opponent’s flop calling range suddenly becomes much weaker due to whatever the turn card happened to be. Overcards to the board are good examples of this, but a flush completing on the turn can also work if there are likely to be more flush draws in your range than your opponent’s.
2. Does the Turn Help Your Opponent’s Range?
With what can be considered the opposite of a scare card, some cards will really help your opponent’s range (and/or hurt your own). If you run into a situation like this, then you have to adjust your double barreling range accordingly. This means bluffing less and value betting only with the best hands in your own range since you have to change your strategy to reflect the increased strength of your opponent’s turn range.
Learn more about “Range Advantage” with this article I wrote over on Red Chip Poker
3. What Hands Would You Value Bet on This Turn Card?
If you’re trying to pull off a double barrel bluff against thinking players, then you need to understand what your entire range looks like on that particular turn card. The first place to start with this is asking yourself which hands you would value bet. If there aren’t very many value betting hands in your range with the turn card that comes, then you’re going to run into an issue against thinking players. They’ll know you can’t be representing much, and this will make your bluffs less profitable.
4. What Hands Are the Best to Bluff With on This Turn Card?
In some situations against thinking players, you might decide that you don’t want to bluff too much because you couldn’t be value betting all that often. In these spots, you need to make sure that you’re only bluffing when it’s the most favorable, and to decide on that, you should think about the best hands to bluff in that particular situation.
In general, you’ll want to think of the hands that will have the most equity against your opponent’s calling range, so you want to consider which types of draws you could actually have in that particular spot.
5. Is Your Opponent a Thinking Player?
It’s easy to over-complicate things in poker, and that’s the last thing you want to do when you’re considering a double barrel bluff. If you’re up against a non-thinking opponent, then you can generally double barrel profitably any time you have a moderate amount of fold equity and outs. A gut-shot straight draw and a scare card on the turn will be plenty against players who are looking for a reason to fold, especially if they aren’t thinking about what hands could be in your range.
6. How Large is Your Opponent’s Range?
Sometimes you don’t really have to think so much about the exact hands in your opponent’s range as the sheer size of that range. For example, if you have a loose player pre-flop who does not fold to flop continuation bets all that often, then chances are that this player will have a relatively large range on the turn. That can mean that you should bluff every opportunity you get on the turn if you think they’ll fold a lot, or it can mean that you just value bet them to death if you think they will not. In either case, this single piece of information will largely guide your double barrel efforts.
If you get in the habit of asking and answering these questions whenever you are considering firing a second shell, you will start finding more +EV spots to increase your aggression. Go back and review a few hands where you decided to double barrel and make sure all the answers were favorable…and also do the same for some spots where you elected against double barreling. You may be surprised at the results 🙂