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The Float Play

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La técnica de flotar en el poker

The concept of "float play" refers to an advanced poker Texas Hold'em bluffing technique that extends over two betting rounds.

The play is mainly used to make opponents believe that you have a hand that is stronger than theirs through the flop and the turn betting rounds, so as to close the action and take down the pot on the turn.

What is the float play?

When you use the float play you call an opponent's bet on the flop (floating the flop), and then you bet after being checked to on the turn to take the pot before you see the river card. You can make this play with any two cards, which means this a good bluffing play in general.

What makes the float play effective?

Since in general advanced poker players tend to make a continuation bet on the flop, this helps the float play work, no matter if your opponents caught a piece of it. As a result, it is also common for your opponents to make a bet on the flop with air in the hope that you did not catch a piece of it either and for them to win the pot with their continued aggression.

When you call this bet, they will feel alarmed and they will be scared that you are in fact slowplaying a monster hand. Most players will then check on the turn and you'll be able to win the pot by making a strong bet.

The float play works as a good defense against the continuation bet but you should not use it just to pick bets that seem to be continuation bets.

Making a successful float play

Before you get to make a good float play you need to meet the following criteria:

  1. You should act after your opponent.
  2. You should be heads-up with the other player.

You could pull off a float play when you are out of position but it is not recommended as it is much more difficult and you could lose big. When you are in position, you get to notice any weakness your opponent may have on the turn after you call their flop bet. If your opponent decides to bet strongly on the turn, then you'll know that they are likely to have the best hand and you'll be able to fold. However, if they decide to check, then it means you are in the perfect position to win the pot.

Besides, you should be heads-up with your poker opponent because when there is more than one player in the pot it will not be so easy to carry on such a tricky bluff since there are good chances that at least one of the players has a decent hand.

The float play certainly works much better when you are in position and heads-up and you should almost never try it against more than one opponent.

The basis of the float play is the fact that you try to pick off a continuation bet from your opponent and when there is more than one opponent you'll have to handle too many variables in order to be successful. Keep things simple and only try a float play when you are in position against one opponent.

Example of float play

Suppose you are on the button and you have A Clover QHeart , and an opponent from middle position bets $8 in a $1/$2 NL Holdem game. You are next to act and you call, both opponents in the blinds fold. The flop is 8Spades JHeart 5Diamond , and your hand is not improved. Your opponent bets $16 into the $19 pot.

In general, you would fold in this case because you have not connected with the flop at all, however, you decide to call because you know that your opponent tends to make continuation bets with air. The turn is 3Clover , but this time the other player shows some weakness by checking.

You decide to bet $40 into the $51 pot, and your opponent folds, because they think you have a stronger hand than them.

Float play example overview

In this example, the other player may be making a standard continuation bet holding something like AK, AQ, KQ, or a middle size pocket pair like 99 or 77. When you called on the flop, your opponent got scared that you may have a stronger hand such as AJ, KJ, JJ, 88 and so on.

As a result, the strong ¾ pot size bet you made on the turn made it too costly for your opponent to play on, and they decided to fold. By making a strong ¾ pot size bet, you confirmed to your opponents that you may have a strong hand and at the same time you are not giving them the correct pot odds to call.

If you want to make your opponent think twice before continue playing their hand, then a strong bet on the turn is the key.

You can even make the float play work if your opponent decides to bet on the turn after you call their bet on the flop in an attempt to win the pot with air again.

As a result, you can still make a successful float play even when your opponent re-raises if you feel it is just a weak poker hold'em bet. However, take into account that using the re-raise on the turn as a float play is an advanced move and could be costly and you should understand your opponents well to pull it off. As a result, if you don't have deep knowledge of your opponent and they decide to bet on the turn you should fold.

How to make an effective float play

  • You need a good read on your opponent.
  • You should only use the float play when necessary.

You should have a good read on your opponent before making a float play because you need to know for sure that the other player tends to make continuation bets and will fold if he faces any resistance. This happens because float plays work better against tight-aggressive players rather than calling station that tend to call down bets no matter what hand they think you may have.

You should also take into account that you should not use float plays liberally as a standard defense against the continuation bet. If you use this play too much, you'll find yourself in difficult situations and getting check-raised on the turn, even though it works well against continuation bets.

In general, you don't plan to use the float play when you enter a pot before the flop but you consider using it when you face certain situations as they come up.

You'll spot those situations while you play, which means you don't need to look for them.

Float play evaluation

The float play is an advanced technique that is generally used at $100NL Holdem games and higher, though it can also come up at lower limits. It is a tricky move that extends over two betting rounds and you require a good knowledge of your opponents to pull it off successfully.

The float play can be a powerful tool when you learn to master it and to spot the situations in which it can be used. Don't feel too cocky if you get to make a successful float play, remember that it is only another standard play in poker you can use from time to time.

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