The simple continuation bet is one of the first, and most popular, strategies that new players to no limit Texas Hold'em learn. C-betting – as it is more popularly known – is when you raise preflop and then bet the flop, regardless of if you hit anything or not. It's very effective because when both players miss the flop it's usually the aggressive player who will take it down. Even if your opponent has something, such as Ace-high or bottom pair, they may still fold because of the chance that you are holding something stronger.
However, as poker players get a little more experienced they begin to see through c-bets and don't give them the respect they once used to. Suddenly you will find that your c-bets are getting called much more, and sometimes even raised. At first this can be a difficult adjustment to make but luckily for us there is one move in our arsenal that is still hugely effective; the double barrel.
What is double barrelling?
Double barrelling is when you take c-betting one step further and follow through by betting the turn too. It's really quite simple – here is a working example.
You're playing in a $1/$2 cash game and raise with Q-J and get one caller. The flop is K-4-2 rainbow. You bet 2/3 of the pot and get called. The turn is an offsuit Ten. You bet 60% of the pot and your opponent folds, shipping you a nice pot. That's what happens when everything goes to plan. However, you shouldn't just go ahead and thoughtlessly double barrel at every opportunity. There are certain situations that will have a much better chance of success than others and you should focus on these as much as you can.
Good spots to double barrel
Whenever you are bluffing in poker – whether it's a c-bet, a double barrel or something else – your primary intention is to get your opponent to fold their hand so that you can pick up the pot without having to go to showdown. However, it's always worthwhile to have a Plan B just in case this doesn't work, and that's where our double barrel strategy begins to take shape.
The best times to double barrel are when you have outs to win on the river if you are called. And it's especially important to go ahead and bet when you pick up extra equity on the turn. Let's revisit our Q-J example from before to explain what we mean. The K-4-2 rainbow flop is a great one to bet because, unless our opponent has a King, there are very few strong hands he can have. They are unlikely to have called a raise preflop with a hand containing a 2 or a 4 in it, meaning that when they call their most likely range is a King, Ace-high, pocket pairs or some straight draws such as 6-5, A-3 and so on. Excluding top pair our Q-J has quite a few outs against that range, including any Queen or any Jack coming down on the turn.
The Ten is a great card for our hand as it increases our equity and is unlikely to improve our opponent's hand. Now we've picked up eight additional 'clean' outs (cards that will definitely give us the winner) as an Ace or Nine on the river will give us the nut straight. This is a spot where you must double barrel 100% of the time. You now have significant equity in the hand if you are called but, most importantly, you will get folds from everything in your opponent's range except for his King-x hands. Very tight players might even fold a King facing two bets!
It's also worth pointing out when not to double barrel. We can use the same Q-J example but this time the turn card is another 2. On this occasion, the board has not changed at all and so, in theory, the outcome of your bluff will be exactly the same as it was on the flop and you will be called. That goes for the entirety of your opponent's range, from hands like Ace-high to 6-6 to any King. With a 2 turn you also fail to pick up additional equity yourself and could now be drawing dead. On this occasion it's advisable simply to check and give up on the hand.