The Float Play in Online Poker

The float play in poker is an intermediate and advanced poker strategy where Player B is in late position and calls a continuation bet on the flop from Player A (in early position) in hopes that the call will slow down Player A’s aggression on the turn. If the conditions are right, Player B will attempt to steal the pot.

Generally this move is done even if Player B misses the flop because most players who c-bet the flop, like Player A, actually miss the flop themselves.

Before you go out and try this pure bluff attempt yourselves, be sure to take a look at all the factors that need to be considered in order to run the float play successfully.

Floating in Poker

Heads Up Only: It is important to be heads up with an opponent when trying to run the float play simply because like any bluff attempt, the more players that are in the pot the more likely it is that someone has caught a piece of it. Since this is a risky maneuver, it is important to avoid situations where the risk has increased.

Position: When trying to float position is important because you will want to know what your opponent is going to do. Since it is expected that they make a continuation bet on the flop (since they raised pre-flop), a call from you will more than likely cause them to check the turn. If they bet out on the turn as well, then you know they did not c-bet the flop with air and you can fold your hand.

It would be a different scenario if you were out of position. If you were to call someone else’s raise, say from the small blind, you would have to check it on the flop to allow the raiser to c-bet. If you happened to call, you would have to lead out on the turn to try to take down the pot because you would not know if you opponent will check behind you which will give them a free river card. The worst thing about being out of position is that you will never know exactly where your opponent stands, if they are just betting to steal based on their position or if they actually have something.

It is not impossible to try this play out of position, but a better play out of position would be like a check raise on the flop or leading out on the flop to take the pot down. The whole idea of being in position is to be able to have as much control over the action as possible.

Board Texture: Board texture is one of the first things to look at. The board should be completely uncoordinated, with no more than one face card, if any, and should be free of any straights, flushes, or draws.

To put this into perspective, they raised from early position, which can only mean that they have a high pair or two high cards. So that needs to be kept in mind when considering the float play.

The best flops to try this play are completely rainbow cards and no possible straight or flush draws such as 10-5-2 or J-6-3 or similar. Since they made a raise and you called, it is possible to represent something that you do not have which should help the cause.

Chip Stacks: A player will need to make sure that they have enough chips to apply the needed pressure to cause their opponent to fold. If you are short stack, your opponents will more than likely call just to take your stack. But if you have enough chips to bet half the pot, maybe 3/4 the pot, and still have enough chips left over, this should tell your opponent ‘I have something’ and that should hopefully be enough pressure to cause them to fold.

Aside from your stack, you will want to pay attention to your opponent’s stack as well. If they happen to be rather short stacked themselves, they may call and/or shove with anything that connected to the board. While their hand may not be very good, it is probably a better hand than yours is.

Table Images: Knowing what kind of players you are up against is important anytime that you try to run a bluff. If you are up against a calling station, they will more than likely call any bet that you make which of course defeats the purpose since they are supposed to fold.

Tight players are probably the best to run this play against since they will of course fold if they missed and you will know they have something because 1, they are in the hand and 2, if they call your bet. Tight aggressive players are ok to run the float play against as well. The bottom line is that you want your opponent smart enough to know to fold a hand if they feel they are beaten.

Maniacs are hit or miss. The problem here is that they may try to chase a hand or maybe raise or lead out on the turn which will make the hand very expensive, especially since you will not have much, if anything at all. It may be best to avoid these players, but it will depend on the situation.

Poker Floating

To put this into perspective, the float play is really a difficult play to pull off because it requires a player to analyze everything that we listed above in addition to needing to have a good read on their opponents. It is not that a beginner or less experienced player could not pull it off, but it just needs to be emphasized that it is difficult enough that even the pros get it wrong from time to time. If mishandled, this pure bluff attempt can cost a player a lot of money but like any bluff that is used correctly, it can make a lot of money as well.