Float Play

Float play is a defensive tactic for bluffing loose aggressive players.  You don’t have to worry about it yet, but once you clear your free poker bankroll in the micro-stakes games and move up a for levels, learning how to use float play becomes steadily more important.  In low stakes and mid-stakes cash games, you’ll tend to get a lot of LAGs (30/16) and regulars betting into and raising you on different streets.  In order to defend yourself and stop them taking down the pot, you can try “floating” their bets, in the hope of bluffing them or catching them out on a later street.  Floating is all about calling a bet with a weaker hand with the aim of winning the pot or bluffing your aggressive opponent on a later street.

For example, let’s say I’ have 56 and my opponent c-bets the board on J-4-K.  He has a fairly high AG figure (aggression post-flop) and his c-bet% is about 80%. This tells me that he is c-betting the flop a lot with air and playing weak hands post-flop.  By calling his raise in position, I can then make it look as though I have a strong hand.  Once he checks the turn card and shows weakness I can then bluff him off the pot.

Float Play Conditions

Although floating can be very effective and profitable against loose players, you still need to limit how often you use this.   As stated, the best opponents to float against are loose-aggressive players who you know by their HUD stats or hand history are raising a lot of air and missed hands post-flop.  You also need to be confident that your opponent is capable of double-barrelling the turn, and make sure that he is not only raising his TPTK type hands.  A typical LAG with an AG of 1.5+ and VPIP/PRF of 30/20 would seem the right sort of opponent to use this move against.

Position is very important in order to profitably float an opponent. Having position on your aggressive opponent (i.e. being able to see him act first) is what makes the float so profitable.  For example, if my opponent decides to double-barrels the turn with air (e.g. J10 on K-5-9 board) and I call him with 45s, then by the river he will be put under a lot more pressure.  Because he is out of position it makes it less profitable for him to continue bluffing his hand hence he will check his missed hand by now most of the time.  Once your opponent checks to you and indicates weakness, you can then bluff him off pot and take down all of the left over dead money.  Usually a 50% – 100% raise will do the trick.

If you are out of position then floating/bluffing like this will not work.  For example, if you’re in BB in and your opponent’s in the CO position, then you will have to act first on every street.  The problem here is that if you cannot really bluff your opponent profitably out of position, since a lot of his semi-bluffing equity and calling range will go up because of his positional advantage.  For example he can easily start semi-bluffing you with overcards like QJs on 10-6-2 boards or AJ on 7-5-2 with +EV.  Now, the problem with being out of position is that it means you have to start throwing away missed hands – you can no longer be bluffing or calling light with them.  If I have 67 on a J-A-5 board for instance and raise out of position and get called, then on the turn I will almost always be check/folding the hand.  You cannot pure bluff with air now since your opponent’s calling/floating range is very wide and you will have to act first on the river if you get called, and if you check and show weakness that all what will happen is that you lose the pot.

Another important thing about floating with weak/drawing hands is that if you suddenly pick up a lot of equity on the turn, such as a straight draw with 67 on 6-K-8-9 board, then you should avoid at all costs checking the board in position to see a free card.  Think about what you opponent has told you about his hand.  If he has checked the turn then he likely doesn’t have anything strong. You’ve now turn over additional equity in the pot, and by raising here not only will you put more money into a pot that you have equity in, but you also get extra fold equity from raising behind his check.  If you check/check the turn instead and miss the river, then you put yourself in a much worse situation.