The Float Play in Texas Holdem
The float play in Texas Holdem is a type of bluff played over two streets or more. “Floating” your opponents means calling their bets with nothing, waiting for them to show weakness, and then bluffing them off the pot at a later street. To put this in layman terms, floating is about “calling your opponent’s bluff”.
What most poker strategy articles at other poker school websites won’t tell you is that a lot of the time you’ve got to be calling your opponent’s bluffs even when you’re behind. It’s a simple fact that if you fold to your opponent every time he makes a raise and you don’t have anything good enough to call him, you’re going to lose an awful lot of pots.
That’s why we “float” our opponents in situations when we have position. Having position on your opponent means that you are last to act in a hand. So, if the game flows clockwise around the table than the player in MP would have position on the UTG, Bid Blind and Small Blind. Likewise, LP has position on MP because he is last to act in all of the hands.
Having position on your opponents is a huge advantage because you a) you get to see your opponent’s strength before you make a move, b) he’s less likely to bluff you out of position since he doesn’t know what you’ll do, and c) your bluffs will be more effective (+EV) from position.
Conditions for Floating Opponents
In order to “float” your opponent successfully there are several conditions. Not all of these conditions are necessary to float your opponent, but it’s best to limit your floats to these circumstances.
Type of Opponent: Floating works best against loose aggressive players (LAG) who regularly continuation bet flops or double barrel with air. Floating LAGs is most profitable because they’ll be betting with a weaker range of hands, meaning there’s a greater possibility of them checking if you call them (allowing you to raise them afterwards).
Position on your Opponent: Having position on your opponent is CRUCIAL in order to float his bets successfully. Having position on your opponent allows you to spot any weaknesses (i.e. checking) before you make a move on him with a pot size raise.
One Opponent in the Pot: 99% of the time you can only float a pot if there’s only one opponent in it. If there’s two or more opponents than floating will just get you into trouble since it’s more likely one of them will have a hand.
What Hands Should we Float Our Opponent With?
You can float your opponent with any range of hands since you’re basically expecting him to check the next street and bluff the pot off him with a big pot-size raise. When you float your opponent you’re expecting to bluff him off the pot before it goes to a show down on the river.
That being said, it always makes sense to float when you have at least some equity in the pot. For example, if you have 72 off suit and the flop is full of middling cards like 5-6-8 than there’s a good chance that your opponent could be drawing a decent hand.