News: Poker Basics – The Float

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Today, for newbies, we introduce a more complex bluffing strategy that requires several streets to execute.

Not that kind of floating

Floating is a strategy whereby you call a bet on the flop or turn with a weak hand, specifically with the intention of bluffing on a later street. 

You can only really float in a heads-up pot, because you want to be able to close the action and you do not want to try and bluff two players. Floating also only really works when you are in position, ie. you act after another player on each street. 

A float works best when you have a good handle on your opponent’s range and tendencies. You ideally want to be up against an opponent who has already be seen to give up on the turn when they are called on the flop. Or the board is so unlikely to have helped them that they will not be able to commit money on several streets. 

Position is key

Acting last is a key requirement of a successful float

For example, let’s say you are playing against a predictable tight aggressive player who continuation bets a lot but doesn’t bet the turn much. Let’s say they raise under the gun and you think they have a range close to 88+ ATs+ AJo+. You call with J Q on the Button.

The flop comes 4 5 9. You have completely missed the flop and your opponent bets. Putting him on the range you did, you are not concerned about him hitting this flop too hard and are mostly worried about overpaid.

This is a good flop to float given you assume your opponent has missed, they have shown a tendency to give up on the turn, you can represent a wider range that has hit this board and in a worse case scenario you could hit a good pair or runner-runner draw on the turn. If your opponent checks on most turns this is a good opportunity to bluff. If they bet the turn you can easily get away from the hand. 

Note once again how much easier it is to float when you are in position. Acting last on each street gives you much more flexibility in your decision making. 

There are better hands to float with, specifically hands that can improve to something big like a gutshot. It is not a ‘float’ when you are calling with a good draw, the aim is to bluff a later street first and foremost. When you call with a strong draw and miss, it might also be harder to bluff because you now block the drawing hands who are most likely to fold to you. 

The float is the sort of strategy which can be used incorrectly to justify bad calls. It really only works if you have a strong read that your opponent is unlikely to have hit the board you are on and/or is likely to check/fold on later streets. Floating, when done wrong, is a classic example of ‘fancy play syndrome’. 

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