AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 01.03.2021 · last updated 01.03.2021

Here’s a fundamental poker factoid: If we don’t bet, we’re going to have serious problems winning. Eminently simple, and brutally true. Unfortunately, betting – the sheer scale of both the choices we face and the myriad of possible implications (good and bad) every time we commit our chips – is a complex process.

We bet when we shouldn’t, don’t bet when we should, bet the wrong type of hands… it’s a veritable minefield, but one that, of course, makes this a fascinating game, and one which can be increasingly rewarding the more we learn about it.

Here is some food for thought on the sticky, tricky subject of Double-barreling, which is a common scenario in which a player, after raising pre-flop, will throw in a continuation bet on the Flop, and then ‘fire a second barrel’ on the Turn. Essentially, it’s a fresh attempt to take down a pot after previous attempts have failed, the point being to not hold back on the aggression we’ve hitherto shown.

This is an aspect of the game with which so many players struggle – and it isn’t a problem that’s experienced only when we’re first introduced to poker. A common scenario sees a player (often after putting in a pre-flop raise) take a stab at the pot on the Flop and then, when the Turn comes, take their foot off the accelerator and decide not to follow up their initial aggression with another bet. Failing to fire another barrel is a universal weak spot in the armoury of so many players, and one which, over time, can have a massive negative impact on the health of a player’s bankroll.

Having the conviction to stick to our guns and double-barrel is one of those things which, once we grow accustomed to doing it, becomes second nature, and we wonder what all the fuss was about in our being fearful of executing what is essentially a logical play. Moreover, we’ll also be surprised at what a positive impact this new weapon has.

Another poker truism is that many, many players will call a bet on the Flop only to too easily abandon ship when faced with a further bet on the Turn. There are simply more reasons (or perceived justifications) to call a Flop bet. For example, Flops bring flush and straight draws that are more attractive to call on the Flop, with two cards still to come, than on the Turn, or a player might have overcards and be prepared to call once to see if either appears on the next street. Sometimes people call a Flop bet with a view to seeing if we show weakness when the Turn comes, their plan being to assume the initiative if possible in a bid to steal the pot.

By continuing to apply pressure with a consistent bet on the Turn we’re not going to induce a fold every time, but we are going to scare off players who called on the Flop for reasons such as those highlighted above. And that’s more players than we might expect, and thus quite a lot of pots being won that we’re seriously reducing our chance of winning by not seeing our aggression through properly.

Double-barreling is a key weapon in poker, and well worth getting to grips with if we’re serious about becoming a good player.

Have fun!

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