The float play is an intermediate and advanced poker strategy in Texas Holdem when a player calls a bet from an opponent without any type of strong hand with the intention of bluffing on a later street. If the call was made on the flop it would be referred to as “floating the flop”. When the plan works, usually the player who bet the flop checks the turn, allowing you to take down the pot with any decent sized bet (unless they were going for a check-raise, which doesn’t happen very often).
Generally, floating is done on the flop when an opponent suspects the initial preflop raiser is just cbetting with air to take down the pot against tight players, but you can also float the turn when the right situation presents itself. It always helps to have at least some outs like a gut-shot when considering the float play.
Example of “floating the flop”:
Full Tilt No-Limit Hold’em, $0.02 BB (4 handed) – Full Tilt Converter Tool from http://www.flopturnriver.com
Hero (Button) ($2.86)
Preflop: Hero is Button with 2, 2
1 fold, Hero raises to $0.06, SB raises to $0.20, 1 fold, Hero calls $0.14
Flop: ($0.42) A, 9, 6 (2 players)
SB bets $0.22, Hero calls $0.22
Turn: ($0.86) 4 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $0.53, 1 fold
Total pot: $0.86 | Rake: $0.04
Hero didn’t show 2, 2.
Outcome: Hero won $0.82
Villain had a 3-bet of 13% so I didn’t give his re-raise much credit for a big hand . A 4-bet would be a profitable move but I decided just to call and see what happened on the flop. The flop brought with it an Ace and villain hesitated a bit before cbetting. This timing tell lead me to believe he didn’t have the Ace so I decided to float the flop since he is going to have air here very often with the plan to take the pot away from him on the turn if he checks. Villain checked the turn and folded to my decent sized bet on the turn.
Example of “floating the turn”:
Hero (MP2): $2.72
Pre Flop: ($0.03) Hero is MP2 with A 4
1 fold, UTG+1 calls $0.02, 1 fold, Hero calls $0.02, 3 folds, BB checks
Flop: ($0.07) 8 9 2 (3 players)
BB checks, UTG+1 checks, Hero checks
Turn: ($0.07) 3 (3 players)
BB bets $0.07, UTG+1 folds, Hero calls $0.07
River: ($0.21) 7 (2 players)
BB bets $0.15, Hero raises to $0.40, BB folds
Final Pot: $0.51
Hero mucks A 4
Hero wins $0.23
Even though the player who bet the turn also bet the river I still think it’s a good spot to bluff raise the river. He was an aggressive player capable of double barreling with air, and since he checked the flop he likely has a medium strength hand which is susceptible to a raise or air (missed draws and other air). Raising here can represent a strong hand like two-pair, straight or flush, since the open-ended straight draw and flush draw got there.
In this video, Phil Ivey uses the float play against Patrick Antonius two streets with 7 high.