Floating – What is it, and when to do it?

Floating

A player is considered to be floating in poker, when they call their opponent’s bet on the flop, hoping to win the hand without showdown. That is to say they are calling hoping to get their opponent to fold on the turn or river.

When to float?

At UnfairPoker.com, we think the following factors might make floating a good option. Of course, floating might not be the only tool available to you, and you will need to consider if there are better options.

Floating is better when there are issues with opponent’s continuation bet

your opponent continuation bets excessively, without any plans to barrel

An obvious example where floating is likely to work is versus an opponent who opens a lot of hands preflop and then continuation bets at too high a frequency, and then gives up frequently when called (i.e. he does not barrel unless he actually has something or improves). You can often just call the flop, and fire the turn when your opponent gives up.

Some opponents may continue too frequently on the turn also, after continuation betting too often on the flop, but always give up on the river when they are not strong. You can often call twice, and take it away with a bet on the river.

Of course floating is not the only way you can tackle this type of opponent – you could also raise him on the flop – however, floating might be better, if he will give away valuable information about the strength of his hand on the following street.

your opponent continuation bets on a flop where you have range advantage

Don’t let your opponent off the hook here. Either float him, or raise him there and then.

your opponent continuation bets using too small sizes

Obviously, we are meant to continue more frequently to small sizes than large sizes. Our floats don’t cost as much, making them even more profitable.

Floating is better in position

Floating out of position is difficult because:

  • You won’t know if your opponent is planning on checking the turn
  • If you were planning a check-raise from out of position on the turn, but your opponent checks back it will be harder to win the hand without showdown (which is the definition of floating). This is because your opponent can cut out an entire street – the overall pot geometry will mean he will have to put in far less overall into the pot to get to showdown.

Floating is better when you could improve (as a backup plan)

This is similar to the concept of a semi-bluff, when you could win the hand in two ways (by making your hand, or getting your opponent to fold). By definition when you are floating you are trying to win the hand without showdown – however, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan – e.g. backdoor draws.