Evaluating turn double barrels

If you are familiar with the concept of barreling you know that betting cards that come on later streets that change top...

Posted Jul 19, 2013


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

If you are familiar with the concept of barreling you know that betting cards that come on later streets that change top pair can be very effective as a bluff. Sometimes, unless our opponent is slowplaying, villains often will have a pretty wide flop calling range to your continuation bets--especially on ragged boards. Say for example the flop is 9 3 2. We had open raised on the button with J Q and both of the blinds called pre lop.

If we cbet here, and this is a good board to do so, our opponents can be calling us with hands as weak as A2, A3, any pocket pair, a nine and sometimes even ace high. Knowing this, over cards like an ace or a king are very effective turn double barrel cards as they are likely to hit our range but to weaken a flop caller’s holding. If you are a good enough player to also value bet the turn when you hit your hand it becomes very difficult for players to bluff catch you. In the above example, however, if a competent player double barrels the turn does it necessarily mean that they have a strong hand? Obviously this question is player and situationally dependent but chances are the better the player the more frequently he will use this scare card as a bluff.

A good player also knows which cards are not the best turns to bluff. Say, for example, we cbet 9 6 4 into two people on the flop and they both call. The turn brings in the 7. This is obviously not the best card to continue a bluff, as it is likely to improve an opponent’s calling range. The 7 brings a backdoor flush draw and also gives a lot of hands pairs plus straight draws. The chances are slim that you will be able to bet through both people on the turn. Knowing this, what does it mean then if a competent player bets the turn on a coordinated, non-scare card? Usually, when this happens, we can infer that the preflop raiser has a strong hand—something like at least top pair--and is charging his opponents’ weaker holdings. Can we infer anything about say a K coming on the turn? Probably not.

Let us look at something else. Say you call a raise from an UTG+1 player in the small blind with Q J. The big blind also calls and you see the flop three ways. The board comes out J 4 5. It gets checked to the preflop raiser and he cbets. We call, as does the big blind. The turn is the 6. We check and the preflop rasier fires another large bet. What do you think about the preflop raiser’s hand strength now? And to make this point more clear let us say that instead of the 6 coming on the turn it was the K. We check and the UTG+1 player double barrels. In which scenario is the preflop raiser more likely to have a strong hand? If you thought the first example you are right.

However, I have witnessed a lot of inexperienced players not pick up on this concept and call the turn in example one but fold in example two. You see, sometimes a scare card really is not what it seems. Now, yes, the preflop raiser certainly could have hit a king on the turn or he could have been beating us the whole way but in example two at least there is a chance that he can be bluffing. In example one if the player is decent it is very unlikely that he is betting with no equity because he should realize that he should get called a lot wider. Pay attention to this situation and use it to your advantage.

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