Floating away

Floating away

Friday, 1 October 2010

Dear Dr Tom,

When is it a good spot to float a flop with air and when is it not?

Vaz, London

Dear Vaz,

Floating shows a serious disregard for opponent’s abilities and whether that’s justified or not, you shouldn’t float someone till you’ve had a good chance to observe his post-flop play. The number one question before you float is: how many barrels does opponent typically fire when continuation betting? If it’s only ever one, then you have your perfect target, since when he checks the turn you know a bet will take him out. In contrast, double-barrellers are impossible to float: against these you should reply either by folding or raising with a mixture of hands, draws and (very) occasional air.

Remember that a float is effectively a raise in two installments. After all, a standard raise is actually a bundle that’s made up of a call and a bet. With the float you just tease the bundle apart and call first and bet on the next street. Overall then, raises and floats offer you the same price on trying to take down the pot. Generally, if opponent is a simple soul, floats outperform raises since the float gives you extra information before you invest the more expensive part of your two contributions to the pot.

If you simply re-raise this opponent and he is strong, you lose more money than if you float with a call and then give up when opponent fires on the turn. If opponent is tricksy however, information is as likely to be misinformation, and you are better of re-raising there and then and taking the initiative off him.

Either way, floats should constitute a small portion of your bluffing arsenal. Floats are raises in disguise and, thus mathematically, they entail you having to put more in the pot than you stand to win. It’s always cheaper to bluff your opponent by being the one who’s first to bet.


Tags: Tom Sambrook, Strategy, floating flops