How to adjust your barreling ranges versus weak opponents?

Triple barreling and the defense versus triple barrels are topics where you can see particularly big differences between the fields of low, mid and high stakes tournaments.

While your average opponent will clearly deviate from optimum play in all three stakes, their mistakes will not be the same, therefore you should make very different adjustments.

Should I sum up the biggest leaks regarding triple barrels per stake, I would go with the following statements:

High stakes:

Unless you have some special read, your edge will come from carefully selected combos, weighting blocker effect and reverse blocker effect, playing mostly solid. In most cases you can expect your opponents to slightly overfold, especially on static textures where the average guys don’t find the right combinations to bluff (e.g. AA729 rainbow: no natural draws to barrel with, no uncompleted draws to fold out so if you want to triple, you should fire with dead kicker blockers).

Another slight read to share: when they are clearly capped, they tend to hero-call too light vs enormous (4x-5x) overbets.

If you are spot on with ICM, you want to be a bit passive/voluntarily weak-tight in the early stages in order to be able to get to the late stages more often, where you can capitalize on your superior skills. If you are not spot on with ICM, stop playing and start practicing with HRC today! 🙂

Mid stakes

Mid stakes are special: the field is not as huge as in the lowest stakes, so you have some chance to build up individual reads on the regulars, but your opponents will mainly base their decisions on their reads on the population if you can find the right combos/sizings to bluff in spots where population underbluffs, you can run over most of the regulars!

A few examples: on mid disconnected flops like 952 it’s theoretically correct to start with a huge cbet as preflop raiser with holdings like JT, QT and many others. Still, the average guys will only use bigger than half pot sizing if they have a monster regs who are aware of the pop tendencies (including myself) will heavily overfold to big size cbets unless you have special history with a reg, you can expect him to overfold vs big size cbets and make a ton of money.

The same is true for triple barreling: as the population barely shows three-street aggression, most of the regs will not expect you to triple barrel bluff on static/semi static textures, so you can safely overbluff a bit.

When facing triple barrels you generally want to overfold, however if you have time, here is a pro tip:

In addition to Win$SD and River cbet stats, check the early finish % of your opponent on SharkScope: if it’s high (8%+) then that’s a good indicator that they are willing to fire hard, fire full stack. This info is useful even if the current spot is not in the early stages, as it is about their general nature, general attitude to the game. This stat often correlates with the level of consciousness regarding ICM: the higher the early finish, the more likely the same guy will spew/fight too hard in late stages as well.

Two important spots to mention:

  1. When they have natural semibluffs on the turn and the turn & river are scare cards/blanks to your range, they tend to heavily overbluff.

  2. When there was no action on turn and the river brings the fourth of the same suit they tend to bluff/turn weak made hands to bluff, but they almost always trap with their flushes the final result is heavy overbluffing

Basically these are the only spots where you should tend to overcall rather than overfolding:

Low stakes:

Almost no one does light triple barrels, except for some whale whose bet button gets stuck and they go bet-bet-bet with totally random holdings.

But in almost all the spots you want to heavily overfold vs triple barrels: even if you can make some money with a herocall, you can usually make more in the next hands by taking low-variance spots, without risking being busted. Simply put: the opportunity cost of a risky stack-off is just too high in weak fields. See this article for more on this topic.

You can still find some funny spots to hero-call 🙂

And you can also fail embarrassingly:

Although it’s fun to make a nice hero-call, in most of the cases you simply want to pass and wait for a safe spot. It will come, believe me:

Regarding triple barreling yourself: at first sight it looks waste of efforts, as you have close to zero chance of folding out mediocre hands (e.g. a top pair with weak kicker) under any circumstances.

But once you realize this and accept that you should only try to fold out second and third pairs and busted draws, and you start adjusting your sizings accordingly, all of a sudden you can find a ton of profitable bluff spots. The key is the willingness to keep their ranges wide on the turn and following up with small/medium barrels on the river:

A short disclaimer: the above mentioned tips are based on my personal experience as a player and as a coach. You have every right to disagree! In fact, I’m really happy to hear your opposing opinion! The best place to start a discussion is probably our Discord channel, feel free to tag me questions!

Valdemar 'Luigi' Kwaysser

13 years as professional poker player 10 years experience as poker coach. Born Hungarian, living in Valencia, Spain. 36 yo, married, happy father of two. Founder of CheckDecide