Floating is when you call a bet with a hand that is rarely ahead with the intention of taking down the pot on a later street. It’s a profitable weapon because it’s a great way to counter players who c-bet too much (75 percent or more on the flop) and players who play straightforwardly on the turn.
Being able to float well also puts a ton of pressure on your opponents because it forces them to check-fold the flop more than they would like, or it makes the turn tougher for them to play. You will also take down more pots.
What factors should you consider before you float?
- If your opponent 2-barrels too often, you shouldn’t float the flop because you will have to fold the turn too often.
- If your opponent plays straightforwardly on the turn and telegraphs the strength of his range either by checking or betting. Some players check whenever they don’t have a hand on the turn and bet whenever they do. These are your primary targets.
- It is credible for you to represent a hand on the turn or river. A quick example.
4. Make sure that when you float, you have some equity in the pot and have some backdoor draws so you can continue on the turn. Take the hand from our previous example. Although you only have a gutshot on the flop wit 78 clubs, you can call the turn on a club and a nine. Depending on how good your opponent is at hand reading and how aggressive he is at the river, you can sometimes call a seven or an eight on the turn. Some players are so aggressive that they will bet on the river and take away your option bluff (or see a free showdown).
Axx and Kxx are also great flops to float on. Your opponents are c-betting with almost, if not all of their range and will give up on the turn if a card below a ten comes and they don’t improve their hand. That’s a lot of turn cards for you to win the pot. Let’s get to an example.
A turn Q, 8, or diamond gives you at least eight more outs, allowing you to call another bet. If the turn comes a J or T, you may call again if you think he’s double-barreling light. If the turn is a club and Villain checks, you will take down the pot more often than not with a bet. If Villain check-calls a turn club and isn’t overly tricky, I would bet the river again because his range is likely a pair with a club that will fold to a river bet.
If he’s capable of check-calling the turn with 9x or TT-KK, fire the river again. You will take down the pot the majority of the time. If you are the type of player who will give up on the river on a good spot, don’t float the flop or you are just burning money.
Let’s go over another example.
Don’t wait for the river—bet now. Villain usually check-folds here with his air and weak pairs. Two pair or stronger would have bet the turn. If he calls, he probably has Jx, Tx, the occasional 9x, 8x and diamonds. Give up on the river unless you have reason to believe his range is weaker or he will fold to a river bet.
Say you hit your gutshot on the turn and he bets into you. Unless stacks are super deep (200BB+), calling is usually the better play. A ten on the turn completes so many hands that Villain will fold a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if Villain folded a hand like KK to a turn raise. By calling, you under-represent your hand and can extract more value on the river (either with him bluffing or value-betting with worse hands). The hands that will stack off to a turn raise will put money in on the majority of rivers anyway.
If you hit a K or Q on the turn, call his bet and bet if he checks. On the river, if he continues betting, you will have to fold if you only have a pair of queens or kings. Those two cards improve a lot of your flop calling range, and he has a really strong hand if he fires three barrels. We call the turn because a queen or a king is a good bluff card and Villain’s bluffing frequency will go up. However, Villain’s high bluffing frequency on the turn doesn’t mean his bluffing frequency on the river is high.
Fold. This is probably the most important factor regarding floating. You don’t have to take down all the pots. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do and you have to fold. That’s fine, and it doesn’t make you a bad player. Being a good player is all about making the play with the greatest EV. In this case, you maximize your EV by folding.