Alex Fitzgerald Explains How to Triple Barrel Bluff in Poker
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The triple barrel bluff is the play that everyone wants to do at the poker table. There is nothing more badass than firing three shells at a pot to take it down. Showing the bluff is likely to draw cheers from the rail. Nothing says excitement and big bet poker like river shells that get through.
Of course, this play is so exciting because it is so rare. It is tough to land in actual competition. It can also be difficult to use when you are playing against basic opponents who never want to fold.
That said, just because this play is hard to execute does not mean it should be abandoned entirely. A complete poker player can execute any poker play.
Have you ever done a triple barrel bluff? What led you to making that play? Was it a hunch?
What You Need to Do
Today, we will focus on one triple barrel bluff you can do. If you have never done a triple barrel bluff before don't worry. We will start with one of the most fundamental big bluffs you can run. This will be a good starting point for you.
The first thing you are going to need for a triple barrel bluff is a target. You will need an opponent who clearly cares about winning. You don't want to be focusing on loose recreational players at this time. Those players are great for value betting. They are not great for bluffing.
If someone carries themselves well in the poker room and isn't afraid to execute a thin fold or a preflop reraise that is someone we should focus on. That is someone who is playing to win.
"Once they call you with half the deck preflop, they are not going to hit the flop that often."
We want to target this player when they are in the big blind. We are going to raise when they are in that position. When they call us out of the big blind, they will likely be defending too many hands. To be fair to them, most people are not triple barreling them so they can get away with calling a few too many hands. You're just going to be the exception to the rule.
Once they call you with half the deck preflop, they are not going to hit the flop that often. When they do hit the flop, they are not going to have better than ragged pairs most of the time.
This is how we're going to find out what they flopped. We are going to continuation-bet. If our opponent just calls us on the flop when there is a flush draw or straight draw out there it is likely they do not have a set or two pair. Why? Because most people would raise with two pair or a set on a coordinated board. They want to simultaneously get money from their hand and also protect their hand.
Once they have called you out of the big blind you know they most likely do not have their premium overpairs. They likely would have three-bet with those hands. They are also likely to not have their two pairs or sets if they called on a coordinated board because most people will raise those hands to protect them and get value from them.
Target Crappy Pairs
So, what does that leave them with when they call on the coordinated flop? Pairs. Crappy pairs. Pairs with crappy kickers. Most likely it is not a pocket pair because there are not many combinations of those. Their most likely pairs are matching one of the cards on the board.
So, what does that mean? When the turn is an overcard or brings in a draw your opponent does not have a good hand most of the time. They have not hit the draw the vast majority of the time. They have not hit the overcard the vast majority of the time. They are hoping you do not fire again.
This is when you will disappoint them. You can bet large to set up a river jam. Count how much would have to go in on the turn to set up a clean river jam versus their stack and don't be afraid to set it up. Apply pressure.
People will often tip the strength of their hand live. They will play quickly on the flop and call without much hesitation. This can tip off that they have a weak pair. If they had flopped a huge hand, they would have to consider whether they want to slowplay or raise right then. This would take a few seconds of their time. If they look like they're dealing with something routine that means they didn't have much to think about. They flopped a pair they were never considering raising so now they're calling with it.
It goes without saying but this is a high-variance play. Be prepared to invest a recreational gaming budget you are willing to lose.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
You are setting up a river jam or huge river bet because many disciplined players will not call off most (if not all) of their chips with one weak pair, especially if a draw comes in. That doesn't mean they don't sometimes figure out what you have. If you get called on the river, be polite about it. Say nice call and shake their hand.
You will make mistakes when you first implement this play. You will have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Sometimes people do not like to triple barrel bluff because if it fails the table gives them a hard time. However, it's a good sign when the table complains about your aggressive play. If they truly thought you were donking your chips off they would remain silent. They would let you keep doing the same dumb play.
"No one mocks a recreational player who limps every single hand preflop. Why? Because everyone knows that that kind of passive play is likely to lead to massive losses."
No one mocks a recreational player who limps every single hand preflop. Why? Because everyone knows that that kind of passive play is likely to lead to massive losses. They don't want to interrupt their opponent while they're making such a huge mistake.
But if multiple people are loudly complaining about your aggressive triple barrel? They're telling you that that play makes them uncomfortable. They don't want you doing the same thing to them. They just tipped off that they're not prepared for it.
Getting caught triple barrel bluffing in a cash game can be a huge asset too. You can get action for weeks off of just one failed bluff. No one wants to be the guy who let the reckless player run over them. They'll hero call because no one at the table who saw your earlier bluff will criticize them.
Now, my time in this article was limited so I have to wrap things up here. However, there are many other triple barrel bluffs you can execute in competition aside from this basic one. If you want to learn about what triple barrel bluffs work well deep in major tournaments check out my in-depth course here.
That master class contains a quiz that will reveal if you are triple barrel bluffing in the right situations or not. All of the quiz hands are based on real hands that happened in real deep tournament competition.
About Alex Fitzgerald
Alex Fitzgerald is a professional poker player and best-selling author who currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a WPT and EPT final tablist. He has WCOOP and SCOOP wins online. His most recent win was for $250,000 online. He currently enjoys blasting bums away in online tournaments while he listens to death metal.
Alex can be reached for private coaching at [email protected]