The float play or “floating the flop” is an advanced NL Texas Hold’em play that utilizes your position and perceived hand strength to steal the pot, even though you have nothing or next to nothing.
The float play occurs when you have position on your opponent and your opponent makes a pre-flop raise. You call the raise. Your opponent makes a continuation bet on the flop. You call the bet (float the flop) in hopes that your opponent has nothing (which he will 2/3 of the time) and will check the turn. When your opponent does check the turn, you swoop in and make a large bet to steal the pot.
The two critical elements of a float play are:
- There must be only one other player in the hand
- You must have position on your opponent
Take your position
In order to make an effective float play you have to have position. If you had to act first, you might waste valuable chips by check-calling on the flop and betting and getting re-raised on the turn.
You are essentially using your position to defend against the continuation bet, which, when your opponent is a good player, is a common play.
Play off a dry flop
Now, in order for the float play to work, you have to believe your opponent is bluffing. If your opponent makes a solid pre-flop raise and the flop is A-K-Q, chances are he caught something. Calling a bet on the flop would a poor decision.
You want to call a continuation bet with a dry flop. Rainbow flops like J-6-2 or 10-3-7 would be ideal because they don’t have high face cards and there aren’t any connectors. It’s likely your opponent missed this flop. By calling pre-flop and on the flop you have your opponent befuddled, and with no draws possible, your opponent will have a difficult time putting you on a specific range of hands. You might be slow playing a pocket pair or two-pair, or you could have two over cards. Even if your opponent keenly suspects you are attempting a float play, it will be quite difficult to call your turn bet with nothing.
Play the player
Since you float play is a bluff and not a bet for value, your read on your opponent is essential. Think about who you are up against before attempting to float the flop. If your opponent is a calling station, you should almost never try this technique, as it’s extremely difficult to bluff a player who calls with anything.
It’s easiest to pull off this technique against tight and tight-aggressive players. If you know your opponent player is tight-aggressive and he checks the turn, it’s likely he has nothing. A tight-aggressive player might attempt to make a strong continuation bet, but its rare to see a double barrel bet.
If you know your opponent is a loose-aggressive player, tread carefully. They raise with a wide range of hands, so it’s quite possible they caught a piece of the flop.
Since this is an advanced play and requires a good read, I recommend that you try to get a feel for an opponent’s playing style before you attempt a float play.
Bet with purpose
As with any bluff, you’re not going to get away with a bet that is only 2x the big blind. Instead, bet around ¾ of the pot. This bet signals that you have a very strong hand and aren’t going anywhere. By betting this much, you aren’t giving your opponent the correct pot odds to call and improve their hand.
Use it sparingly online
Keep in mind that you won’t see too many float plays at the micro and low limit cash game levels online. Since player tend to play looser online, if they bet pre-flop, on the flop and on the turn, they probably have a legitimate hand.
Also, as you know, it’s more difficult to distinguish player types online. Thus, “playing the player” becomes all the more challenging.
A well-executed float play requires a great read on your opponent, a dry board, proper positioning, a strong bet and good timing. It should be used sparingly, if at all.
Even though a floating the flop is essentially a bluff, it’s best to call a flop with a hand that has outs to improve, or with two over cards as well. That way, if you’re opponent does have hand like top pair, you may be able to simply outdraw him.
Lastly, look into using a Heads Up Display (HUD) to see your opponent’s flop continuation bet percentage and turn continuation bet percentage. If they have a high percentage, this makes it easy for you to float the flop.
How about you guys: Have you tried the float play? Do you have any success stories?