Poker Tournament Strategy - Firing a Second Barrel

What happens when our continuation bet gets called and we don’t have any showdown value?
Should you fire again or give up the hand?

By Pablo Paglayan

Every winning poker player agrees on the importance of being positive and aggressive with their betting. Once you open the pot pre-flop, you are supposed to make a continuation bet on the flop more often than not. This will usually win you the pot right there even if you didn’t hit a hand at all. But what happens when our continuation bet gets called and we don’t have any showdown value? Should you fire again - or give up the hand?

There are several of factors to analyze before deciding to fire a Second Barrel or not. These include Position, Flop texture, hand equity and player image. Each of these interact with the others, helping you to decide whether firing a second barrel is a profitable move or not.

Firing A 2nd Barrel - Position

As in every aspect of poker play, having position will mean better results in the long term. In this case, where our flop continuation bet got called, we are more likely to win the pot with a Second Barrel in position than out of position.

This is because, when calling out of position, our opponent must be willing to make a call on the river if he is planning to check it to us. Moreover, implied odds while playing out of position are always lower than in position, so many hands that may call with position will fold without it.

On the other hand, when the villain calls in position, he can not only expect to see a cheap showdown, but also he might bluff us with a missed draw on the river if we decide not to make a Third Barrel.

Firing A 2nd Barrel - Board Texture

It’s extremely important to have a board which hits our opening range in order to make our opponent fold. For example, if villain check-called our continuation bet on a K-9-6 board and then checked again when an Ace appeared on the turn, then we can definitely fire a Second Barrel looking to steal the pot. In that same example, a Second Barrel can be fired both in and out of position.

However, if the turn card is a brick and there’s no draw at all, checking back (or just check when we are out of position) might be the best idea. To come to an accurate conclusion, ask yourself:

‘Are there any hands which called THAT flop that might fold THAT turn?’

If the answer is no, then there’s no reason to invest any more chips to try to steal the pot. However, if the answer is yes, you should ask yourself:

‘Which ones? Are they a considerable part of the villain’s range after calling the flop?’

And, if the answer is yes, you might want to fire a Second Barrel, given that our opponent will be folding many times.

Finally, try to avoid firing a Second Barrel out of position after when a draw (specially a flush draw) was completed with the turn card.

Firing A 2nd Barrel - Hand Equity

When you have some equity (that means that a decent amount of cards can hit the river to give you the winning hand) you can consider to fire a Second Barrel with a higher frequency, because some of the times you get called you will end up winning a pretty big pot after hitting the river.

Hands with decent equity can be flush draws, open-ended straight draws, overcards + gutshot, etc. However, be careful with players that like to check-raise a lot, because you might be forced to fold and miss the chance of making a hand on the river to win the pot.

Firing A 2nd Barrel - Player Image

You must take into account both your image and the villain’s image before deciding whether to fire a Second Barrel or not.

If he knows you’ve been bluffing a lot and playing very aggressively, then he is very unlikely to fold against your Second Barrel. Also, if you know that he is a calling-station, then bluffing will not be the best idea.

On the other hand, if you have a pretty tight image, you can expect your Second Barrel to work more often than not, especially against player that, let’s say, like to call the flop with a wide range but then fold against another bet.

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