The ‘float play’ in poker is where a player calls a bet on the flop despite their hand missing, with the intention of stealing the hand on the turn.
When missing the flop instead of folding to a bet, they call their opponent’s continuation bet in hopes that their opponent has also missed the flop. They will expect they will check the turn seeing as how their c-bet was called, enabling them to steal the hand on the turn when the opponent has shown weakness. Crucially in for this to work you must be in position.
In essence a float play is floating or delaying your bluff until the turn rather than trying to bluff straight away on the missed flop.
If all the following factors are in place, then this can be a good strategy to make a bluff in hopes to push the opponent off their hand.
Successful Floating Play in Poker
Be in Position: Being in position is important when trying to float in poker because it is necessary to know what your opponents actions are before making a move yourself. It is expected that your opponent will continuation bet the flop but you need to know if they are willing to fire another shell on the turn or if your call on the flop will slow them down and cause them to check the turn.
If your opponent happens to fire another shell on the turn, you can then fold assuming that they have a hand and that it is pointless to try to bluff them off it.
Trying to float out of position would be difficult because you would be first to act and would more than likely check the flop causing your opponents to bet after you. This bet would still technically be a c-bet, but also a bet that is using position as an advantage. Even if you called the flop bet, you are still going to look rather weak to your opponents and will have a much harder time trying to get them to fold their hand. The bottom line is that being out of position will require other strategies to bluff your opponents.
Table Image: A player needs to consider their table image and the image of their opponent before attempting the float play.
If you happen to have an image of someone who is reckless and plays virtually every hand, your bluff is going to have no creditability to it. Your opponents will figure that this is what you do every hand and will put you on a wider hand range justifying them calling your bets and raises.
However, if you are a tighter player then you calling a c-bet on the flop should definitely slow the betting down and allow the tables to turn so that you can take control of the hand. From here, you should be able to make a successful bluff on the turn or the river to take the pot down.
Your opponent’s image is going to be just as important, if not more important than realizing your image. What you are looking for are opponents that are smart enough to fold if they feel that they are beaten. These players tend to be tight or tight aggressive players. Players that you will want to avoid are calling stations because they will obviously call you down with very little which of course defeats the idea of bluffing them. Loose players are difficult to attempt this against as well as they are more likely to fire another shell on the turn, leaving you to wonder if they actually have a hand or not.
Board Texture: The board texture needs to be analysed simply because you would not want to try to make a bluff attempt on a board that your opponent has likely connected with. After all, they did make a raise from early position. With that in mind, it is important to figure out a range for your opponent and compare it to the board texture. Hands such as 2h-6h-Jh are ideal for attempting the float play on. On the other hand, a board that looks like Ad-Kd-Jh would probably be a bad idea as your opponent probably caught a piece of it. It will just boil down to your opponents and the knowledge of them that you may have.
Heads Up: The float play should only be attempted with one other opponent in the hand. The reasoning is the same for wanting to run any kind of bluff attempt. The more players that are involved in the hand the more likely it is that someone has connected with the flop in some way. So to avoid running into this, be sure to be heads up with an opponent before running this play.
Chip Stacks: Simply put, if you do not have enough chips in your stack to put any pressure on your opponents you are going to have a difficult time in getting them to fold. It is important to have enough chips to bet 3/4 of the pot or more without leaving you short stacked afterwards.
Although this strategy is geared more towards intermediate and advanced players, any strategy can go sour if a player neglects analysing a situation or flat out reads the situation wrong. This of course results in a player’s bluff being picked off and them potentially losing a lot of money. To avoid this mishap, be sure to follow our tips and like any other strategy in your arsenal, be sure to use this sparingly.