Floating in Poker
written by: John
'Poker Floating' is a more advanced poker strategy where a player calls a pre-flop raise in position, bricks the flop but still calls the pre-flop aggressor's continuation bet in hopes that their call will scare the pre-flop raiser into checking the turn. If the pre-flop aggressor checks the turn, then the player in position will then proceed to make a large bet in attempt to steal the pot.
This is a bit more advanced play, as it is a full bluff and will require a player to have a grasp on several poker fundamentals such as reading board texture and understanding position to ensure that the bluff is successful.
The Float Play in Poker
Since the float play is a risky bluff as is, it is crucial that the following factors be considered when attempting this play.
Position: Position is vital in poker anyway, but when attempting a bluff, having position on your opponent is essential.
The biggest reason why you want to have position on your opponent when running the float play is because you expect your opponent to fire a continuation bet on the flop since they were the pre-flop aggressor. However, what you are hoping is that your call on the flop will slow them down on the turn and cause them to check. If they fire off another bet then it is a good chance that they have something and you should probably fold. Being in position will allow you to see all of this happen, before you have to act so that you can decide whether to fold your hand or bluff.
If you were out of position, you would have to act first and if you checked the flop, they would definitely fire of a c-bet. But on the turn, you would not know if your call on the flop slowed them down at all since you are acting first, so what would you do? You can bet, but if your opponent calls or raises you, you will have to fold thus wasting chips. If you check, it is possible they are actually weak and/or on a draw and check behind you receiving a free card and potentially beat you.
Overall, the goal is to only spend money on the flop calling a c-bet, not spending money with garbage on the turn. Being in position will allow you to save that turn bet if needed.
Board Texture: Since your opponent raised pre-flop, you have to assume they have something. So if the flop was A-K-J, it may not be the greatest idea to try and attempt a bluff as your opponent surely caught a piece of this. In fact, depending on your cards and your opponent, it might be safe to say that you would not even want to call the c-bet on the flop.
Now, the best flops to try to float are flops that contain few if any high cards and no draws if possible. Flops like 10-5-2 or J-3-7 would be ideal. Again, since your opponent raised pre-flop it would be safe to assume boards like this didn't connect with your opponent at all. And if you flat called the pre-flop raise and then flat-call the flop, your opponent will have no idea where you're at, making it much easier to steal the pot.
Table Image: The whole idea behind attempting a bluff is to get your opponent to fold. This will require that you bluff an opponent that is smart enough to actually fold their hand such as tight or tight-aggressive players.
Calling stations are players you will want to avoid. What sense does it make to bluff a player who is willing to call just about any bet? This of course will defeat the purpose and result in you losing a bunch of chips in the process.
Maniacal or extremely loose players will be hit or miss and will depend on the read you have. Many of these players play a much wider range so it's possible they caught a piece of the flop and they are more willing to pay to draw to hands. If you do not have any reads on these players, it is best to avoid trying to bluff them all together.
Single Opponent: When floating it is important to just attempt this play against only one player. If there were multiple players in the pot with you, it is too likely that someone has caught a piece of the flop making it much more difficult for you too pull off a successful bluff on a later street.
Stack Sizes: It is pretty difficult to bluff your opponent when your bet isn't enough to give them reason to fold. When floating, you need to make sure you have a large enough stack to put pressure on your opponent and scare them into folding.
Additionally, it is very important to notice your opponent's stack size as well. If they are short stacked, they will much more likely be willing to call or shove over the top with a much wider range of hands.
Ideally, your opponents will have a similar size chip stack in relation to yours.
Floating in Poker
When attempting to float in poker it is very important to keep the above factors in mind to give yourself a fighting chance in pulling off a successful bluff. Like with any other strategy, if the float play is overused and abused it can become quite costly and ruin an entire session. Just be sure to pay attention to your table, the board texture and your position and you are sure to find that the float play will become another great addition to your poker strategy arsenal.