FloatingThe float play or floating has become very 'in vouge' when it comes to modern online cash games. The main reason it's become so popular is because it is not hard to learn or pull off.
What is floating?Simply put, floating is where you'll make a call on a flop with bad cards in order to make a play (bluff) on later streets. Although it is an advanced move, it really isn’t too difficult to learn and then apply. All it reqiuires is some balls, spotting the right times, and a firm grasp of your opponents playing style. You are aiming to exploit one barel continuation bet monkeys who give up easily without a hand, by using the power of position. But before you run off to call everyones continuation bets here are a few factors that must always be taken into account.
Your PositionYou always want to have position on any opponent that you are trying to make a float play against and especially if you're just starting out making this move. Now it's not impossible to make the play out of position but it will become much tougher as you're playing with a lot less infomation and it will end up costing you more money.
Your HandThe decision to float someone should not be made pre flop. You're not looking to float just for the sake of floating. Becoming a good poker player is not about forcing the action but more spotting the good opportunities as and when they present themselves. A common situation when you may find your self is a spot that you may want to float may be because a straight forward, TAG type of player opens in middle position and you're on the button with a hand like six, seven suited with a couple of loose, fishy blinds that you think will come alone too and 67s play well in a multiway pot, in position. However the blinds oppted to fold and it's just you and Mr multi-tabling, ABC player post flop and the flop comes down say Ks8h3c. So lets break everything down to see why this may or may not be a good time to float.
The Flop TextureThere are good flops to float and bad ones. Now if we look at the example situation above and say the flop actaully came down something like Tc Qc and the 9d then floating becomes a pretty bad idea. So the reason that floating here is not such a good idea is because there is a real chance that your opponent has connected with this flop in some way either meaning he wont fold to your bet or he'll fire again on the turn with a big hand or pair plus draw perhaps. The flop we picked in the example above however was Ks8h3c and this flop is so dry that it is much less likely that your opponent connected, so a float in this spot will be a much safer option. Also dry ace high flops are also good spots for floating because it becomes very difficult for your opponent to carry on without at least top pair knowing they could also face a big bet on the river (or they think they will).
Type of opponentOur opponents playing style is a huge factor when making any decision in poker and this becomes even more important when you're looking to make a float play. Lets look more closely to things that we need to look at and should be use in conjunction with each other to give us a solid understanding about how an opponent plays. Continuation Bet Percentage Looking at out opponents c-bet% is going to be the first major piece of the puzzle. We want only really consider making this move if an opponent has a high c-betting average. If they're continuation bet stat is over 75% on the flop, then it's fair to say that they have missed the flop a lot of the time when they fire. These player types are quite common and tend to be basic, multi-tabling grinder types and normally play on auto pilot but are capable of level two thinking. If your opponent seems tighter and is not c-betting that often (less than 50%) it's fairly safe to say that when they do bet the flop they have connected a fair amount of the time. Pre Flop Raise Percentage (PFR on your HUD) We're ideally looking for players who are raising reasonably tightly pre-flop for a couple of reasons. Firstly even a tight range will miss the flop 70% and secondaly, hand reading will be easier post-flop. If we float players who have a much wider opening range then we'll have a lot more hands to consider that may check-call on later streets. Aggression Factor Ideally we'll be floating players that have a pretty average aggression factor of somewhere between say 1.5 - 2. If they are too aggressive, we could be setting ourselves up to come under more fire on the turn and river. If they are super passive then we could be check-called all the way down and essentially spewing off money. We have to identify players who are willing to give up a pot on the turn if they haven't improved. We are not looking to make moves on the passive players who will often check-call the turn with half decent draws or marginal top-pair type hands. Calling Stations These guys don’t look for excuses to fold, they look for reasons to call. Never try to float these guys as all too often they will call you down with bottom-pair and you'll have nobody to blame for spewing off half a stack but yourself Betting Patterns Whilst you're sat at the table, you should constantly be taking as many notes as you can on players betting patterns, trying to figure out what they mean so that they can help you later in the game in situations like this. For example, some players will fire half the pot when they flop a decent hand, bet full pot when they flop top pair on a Queen-high board, and bet two thirds pot when they miss.
ConclusionDon't go out of your way to make floats just for the sake of trying to 'out play' someone post flop. Instead put it at the back of your mind and look to bring it out as and when the right situations call for it. You'll make a lot more money if you only choose the spots where it's highly likely to work.
Good luck at the tables
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