What is Barrel?

A ‘barrel’ in poker is a bet, more specifically a bet made in succession during a betting round or throughout a complete hand. The term references shooting and is a metaphor based on firing shots from a gun’s chambers (or barrels). The barrel in this sense might be a postflop bet that is called and raised again, or a player who continually bets high at each chance to act.

Barrel Explained

‘Barrel’ is a poker term which refers to the metaphor of ‘shooting with both barrels’ – a phrase which means to use the maximum force or energy possible, usually referring to aggression or enthusiasm. The shooting term references the barrel or barrels of a gun, in which the bullets are held. To ‘fire both barrels’ therefore literally means to shoot both chambers of a weapon, and figuratively means to do something in a forceful way.

In poker, the use is similar but refers to the different turns, or streets, in a stud or hold’em game. It means that a player is making consecutive bets or raises at each street. For example, the player holds 7-10 and the flop shows 7-10-A – so the player bets. The turn shows 4, but the player bets again on their two pair, and the river shows 10 for a full house, so the player bets again. This player can be said to have ‘fired three barrels’, or in other words to have taken a shot at each round. In this sense, the ‘barrel’ is the bet being made on each round of the game.

The more general ‘firing both barrels’ or ‘shooting with both barrels’ might also be heard to describe a poker player who is using a particularly aggressive style, betting high or raising every time play passes back to them. This kind of play either signifies a strong hand or a bold bluff. ‘Barrel’ might also be used to describe successive bets in a single round – such as two or more bets made after the turn, when an opponent keeps calling.

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