Floating a bet

The ‘float’ is a great strategy to employ against tight, solid players

You must have position to utilise the float play, as you cannot float out of position

In this article I’m going to explore an advanced – yet simple – technique referred to as ‘floating a bet’ or a ‘float play’. This is how it works: you face a pre-flop raise; you make the call.

After the flop, the player who raised pre-flop bets again; this can be viewed as a continuation bet. You make the call (floating the bet to the turn with the intention, at the slightest sign of weakness, of taking the play away). On the turn, the aggressor checks, you fire away and take the pot down. There are several considerations required in order to implement this play correctly, so let’s explore them.


You must have position to utilise this play; you cannot float from out of position. A check-bet strategy does not work, as it will not take down the pot, nor does a check-raise, as a bet from your opponent defies the purpose of this play. The float play is designed to exploit weakness. If you are checking out of position, your opponent’s action tells you little or nothing.

The float play can work on anyone, but at the end of the day, there are certain players that it has a much greater probability of success on: those who are solid, pick good hands and are always tempted to fire a continuation bet when they are the pre-flop aggressor.

Look for this type of behaviour and betting patterns. This type of player will also get away from a hand when facing resistance. If he fires a continuation bet after the flop and is called, he is prepared to get away from the hand, unless he receives tremendous help on the turn.

In a cash game, your chip stack is not nearly as important as in a tournament – but it does play a role. Keep in mind that this type of play is primarily a bluff. If you hit the flop hard, you are not ‘floating a bet’ on the flop; you are simply playing what could be a winning hand. Make sure at all times that you are aware of what your opponent has behind in chips, i.e; what he has left in his stack (regardless of this play, that is always a very good practice).

If you notice you are facing a tight player who has committed a significant portion of their chips, or a player who is even possibly short stacked, then, chances are, he may actually have a solid hand and is not just making a standard continuation bet. So, it’s best to wait and pick a better spot.

This play only works heads-up. It does not work in a multi-player hand. Some people try to attempt this three-handed, but you need to be sure you have position on both players and that you will lose one of the two players on the flop, otherwise let the hand go.

Like any other play in poker, the float play has to be well- camouflaged unless you are up against a very predictable and somewhat unsophisticated player. You cannot keep bouncing on every check on the turn as your opponents will start putting you to the test. They will also intentionally check when you are in the hand and are acting after them in the hope that you would bet. So, the bottom line is: be selective.


To successfully implement the ‘float play’ there are several conditions which need to be in place. You have to have position against just one other player who is solid and can get away from hands


These particular hands actually took place in August. I was playing in a $25/$50 no-limit game in Atlantic City. The action on the table was great, as it had just the right variety of players. There were a few wealthy novices who wanted to mix it up; a few solid players playing nice and tight, cherry-picking hands and a few local pros trying to grind out a good hourly rate who were not really interested in getting engaged in too many hands.

In this hand I was on the button with 3-4. Not the greatest starting hand, but one you could do a lot of damage with. The player under the gun folded as the next player raised five times the big blind. Everyone folded around to me and I had the perfect opportunity to implement a float play because of what had happened a few hands earlier when the same player had raised from early position and got one caller: the flop was A-Q-8. He fired out a continuation bet and was called.

The turn was a 3. He checked and his opponent bet. He mucked a pair of Jacks face up in disgust as he was convinced he was out-flopped. This was the perfect type of player for this play. I called the raise. Both the blinds folded and we were heads-up. The flop was 2-3-9.

Not exactly a great flop for either of us. I could not imagine this flop helped my opponent, and, even though I hit middle pair – with three black cards on board – it wasn’t exactly the perfect flop for me. My opponent fired out a continuation bet of $400 into a pot of $575. I called. The turn was a 6.

My opponent did not look very pleased by this card and checked. I thought for a moment and fired out a bet of $1,100 into a pot of $1,375. He shook his head once again and folded. If he had put me on a straight draw or flush draw, then the turn hit me hard.

Either way, it certainly did not help his overpair and without a spade in his hand, it was very hard to continue. As I am usually considered an aggressive player, it’s likely that I would not simply call the flop if it hit me hard, especially with two spades on board. Convinced I was drawing, he talked himself out of the hand.


A dangerous looking board (one that is straightening/flushing), is the perfect opportunity for the float even if you have no part of it. If the turn brings a card which seems to have completed a potential draw, you may be able to take the pot easily

A few hours later I found myself holding 7-7 in late position. A player from mid-position raised six times the big blind. I had a tough read as this player had been mixing it up pretty good and he was difficult to put on a starting hand. He had made this play before and had shown down hands like A-J, 7-6 suited, 3-3 and K-Q suited – so it was clear that he could be on a variety of hands. I decided to make the call. Everyone else folded and the two of us went to the flop. The flop was 2-6-8.

This was a good flop for me. With only one overcard on board, there was a good chance I was ahead. He could be playing 8-9 suited, but with all the different hand variations there is a small percentage chance of that. He placed a continuation bet of $500 into a pot of $675, and I floated a call. The turn was a 9.

My opponent checked. Now – keeping in mind that a float play is primarily a bluff – by betting out here I am semi- bluffing at best and there is a good chance that I am ahead in the hand and have just picked up an open-ended straight draw on the turn. I bet $1,500 into a pot of $1,675. He thought about it for a minute and raised to $4,000.

It was not exactly a move that I had been expecting. It was clear I was behind at this point, but the odds – coupled with the implied odds of the river bet – were more than sufficient to continue with the hand. I made the call for $2,500 into a pot of $7,175. The turn was a 2.

My opponent value bet the river by firing a bet of $8,200. It was an easy decision for me to lay the hand down; my opponent had been playing pocket nines. I was behind the entire time and he filled up on the river. What started as a simple float play developed into a difficult hand. The small raise on the turn did not help matters either, as I got priced in to make the call and continue with the hand. A larger bet would have freed me from that obligation. But, it was a well-played hand by my opponent.

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