If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
It’s a common motivational phrase that goes for most aspects of life in general, but if you carry it over to poker in an intelligent way it can be a profitable approach.
Let’s discuss the triple-barrel bluff.
What is it?
The triple-barrel bluff is not for the faint of heart. It requires you to bet the flop, the turn, and the river with nothing.
It’s relatively easy to bluff on the flop and then shut it down when an opponent calls. Many players are even willing to fire again on the turn to see if their opponent will fold.
It takes another breed of player to keep telling their story all the way to the end by betting the river and hoping that the opponent will finally believe them and fold their hand.
Know why you’re doing it
That basic definition makes the triple-barrel bluff seem risky even to players that have a little bit of gamble in them. If you pay attention to a few other variables, however, you can transfer some of your fear to your opponent.
It is not wise to use the triple-barrel bluff just because you feel like doing it. (That’s actually good advice for every poker strategy.) Instead, you want to have a reason for your strategy and you want to pick the best spots to use it.
For instance, if you are against an opponent who never folds no matter what they have it does not make sense to bet into them three times if you don’t have anything. They’re probably going to call all three of your bluffs, and you are going to lose more money.
The best opponents to use the triple-barrel bluff against are the ones who are willing to fold good hands. If you have seen an opponent repeatedly fold top pair to even a medium amount of aggression, it’s logical to assume they would fold to maximum aggression.
They might be skeptical if you bet the flop, but are they willing to call again on the turn if their hand does not improve? Furthermore, what if their hand never improves by the river and you force them to call a bigger bet from someone who has shown repeated aggression?
Knowing your opponent is an important part of poker. It’s especially important when you are going to put a large amount of money into the pot without having a strong hand.
Another great spot
The triple-barrel bluff is also a great strategy to use when you are sure your opponent is on a draw.
Let’s say your opponent has 9-8 and the flop comes 7-6-Q. They are probably going to call your bet on the flop because they have an open-ended straight draw. If the turn is an ace, they might still call another bet because of the draw. When they miss their draw on the river, however, are they really going to call a big bet with 9-high?
At that point, it doesn’t matter if you have 4-high. They’re not going to call someone who has bet three times.
Know your image
In those situations where your opponent does have a hand worth calling, however, it is good for you to have an image that suggests you are willing to bet three streets with a strong hand.
If you have A-K and the flop comes Q-J-T, you might be tempted to slow play because you have the nuts. On the other hand, if you bet the flop, the turn, and the river, your opponents will see you are capable of betting with the strongest hands.
Now you’ve set them up to believe you even when you bet with nothing.
Conversely, if you make it a habit to triple-barrel bluff and get called a few times, your opponents are going to be more likely to assume you are bluffing every time.
On the surface, the triple-barrel bluff might seem like pure aggression, but there is a lot more that goes into it. Recognizing all of those variables can make the move profitable in the long run.