Double barrels will get your blood pumping. Whether the pot
was raised pre-flop or you started the action with a bluff on
the flop, the turn will be the point in which you either breathe
a sigh of relief or start to become very worried. One or two big
double barrels could be the difference between a deep run and a
crippled stack in a tournament. You need to make some big plays
if you want to run deep, and a double barrel can be the perfect
way to pick up an extra 20 big blinds in an attempt to pad your
Double barrels are very well understood in the world of
poker, but many tournament players have no clue how to properly
execute them. There are a lot of poker players who take blind
stabs at double barreling with no real reason or strategy in
mind. It should go without saying, however, that this is about
as destructive as it gets. There’s a real art to
double barrels, and the creativeness and skillfulness in
this art is magnified in a tournament. You may very well crush
your chances of a big win if you make just one ill-timed double
barrel. It feels great to see your opponent fold on the turn
when you have nothing at all, but your heart will sink when they
instead go all in. Double barrels are the very definition of
high risk and high reward in tournament poker.
The Right Opponents to Double Barrel
As with almost any move in poker, the first step in a
successful double barrel is determining whether or not a player
is capable of folding their hand. There’s no shortage of
players, and especially in tournaments, who just hate to fold
any hand at any cost. You could make the perfect play and still
wind up as the loser just because the other player wasn’t ever
going to play into your strategy. Targeting the right opponents
for a double barrel isn’t very difficult to do, though, so you
shouldn’t worry about conquering this facet of winning double
If you are new to a table, double barreling shouldn’t be one
of the first things on your mind. Instead, the better strategy
is to scope out your table mates in order to see how each player
approaches the game. It shouldn’t take too long before you
realize which players need to get to showdown each hand and
which players always back down to aggression. In terms of double
barrel candidates, you should be lining up the weak and passive
players who tend to crumble in the face of aggression.
The worst thing that you can do is to try and force a calling station off
of their hand via a double barrel. It might be frustrating that
a player never seems to fold, but you need to use this to your
advantage. In fact, the calling stations are seldom even fit for
a continuation bet, so double barreling these players is just
asking for trouble. Find the weak opponents and exploit them.
Wait to capitalize on loose players when you actually have a
The Right Situations for Double Barrels
Just as the right type of opponent is necessary for a double
barrel, so too is the right situation. It’s all too common for
a player to fire out another bet on the turn without giving
consideration to the board or the action at hand. Imagine that
you raised pre-flop, got a few calls, and the flop brought two
spades. You then lead out with a c-bet and manage to get a few
folds along with one call. At this point you are assuming your
opponent either has a pair or stronger or a flush draw, with
nothing at all also being a possibility.
Given this information, there are really only a few cards that would be
bad for a double barrel. If the turn brings another spade, what should you do?
Well, we know that a pair or better is unlikely to fold with a
spade. Hands that floated can use the spade as a bluffing
opportunity, and spade draws obviously aren’t going anywhere.
Using this data, you should know that a turn spade should mean
an automatic shutdown as you’ll only receive folds from a
handful of hands. If the turn was the 9h, however, you would be
in perfect shape for a double barrel.
Tournaments are slightly different than cash games when it
comes to double barrels because of the ongoing fear factor.
Tournament players are afraid to risk big portions of their stacks without huge
hands, so double barrels will be able to force folds from a
larger number of hands than they would otherwise be capable of.
Use this fear in your opponents to your advantage, but don’t
forget that an ideal situation for double barreling isn’t
something that can easily be compensated for.
Double Barrels in Early Stages
Early stage double barrels will generally be quite useless.
Even if you are able to pull off a double barrel early on in a
tournament, the chances are that you aren’t going to derive any
massive benefits from it. You will probably win a handful of
blinds that really don’t increase your overall firing power by
all that much. Double barrels are beneficial in tournaments when
the pots won will increase your stack by a legitimate margin,
but in the early stages this just isn’t the case.
Double Barrels in Late Stages
As you get into the money and play down to the final table,
double barrels will be more and more risky. On one hand, you
could move yourself up a number of spots on the leader board,
but you could also be priming yourself for an early exit.
Since it’s impossible to determine when a double barrel is
guaranteed to work, the only thing that you can do is to find
the absolute best spots possible. This means that you’ll need
to be facing both an opponent that is capable of letting go of
their hand and you must be in a spot where they are likely to be
weak. If both of these primary elements aren’t in place, you
are better off not putting your chips and stack at risk.
You won’t have many comfortable chances to win big pots in
the late stages of a tournament, but just about anything is
better than merely hoping that your opponent changed their mind
about the hand between the flop and turn. Double barrels should
be implemented in the late stages of tournaments only when you
are sure of a high success rate.
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