Poker Floating: The Art of Calling with Weak Hands

Poker Academy
25 May 2024
Holdem Strategy
25 May 2024

«Float» refers to calling with a weak hand against an opponent's bet with the intention of taking the pot on a later street.

It is commonly used, especially against a c-bet on the flop, as many c-bets are made with a wide range, including weak or no made hands.

The term "float" has a relatively broad meaning and does not specify a particular action.

Float may be described as a call to set up a bluff on later streets, but depending on the cards that come on the turn or river, bluffing may not always be the goal.

Example of a Float

Let's look at a specific example.

Suppose BTN has A♥️Q♣︎ and HJ raises 2.5bb, BTN calls, SB and BB fold.

Flop (6.5bb): J♠8♦︎5♣︎. HJ c-bets 4.5bb, BTN?

In this scenario, calling could be considered as a float. The intention behind this call is that the likelihood of the opponent having a Jack in their continuation bet range is not very high. Additionally, if an Ace or a Queen appears on the turn, it would give you a top pair, and a King or a Ten could give a gutshot.

Even if nothing hits, the hand still has showdown value.

Let's take another example.

Effective float scenarios

It is better to avoid floating if you do not meet the following conditions, unless you have a clear intention following the reads.

Against an aggressive opponent

It is said that floats tend to be effective when the opponent is aggressive.

This is because the more frequently your opponent bluffs, the more effective the float will be.

On the other hand, if your opponent is a player who does not bluff postflop, floating would be just a chip burning.

Also, you need to be especially careful when your opponent is passive calling station. If you don't catch the card you want on the street after floating, you will likely bluff bet. In that case, if your opponent is loose passive, you will be called a lot by marginal hands.

If your opponent is a calling station, just go for the thiner value.

Float more in heads-up

In a large field, the chances of someone having a strong hand are higher, making your bluffs less likely to be successful on the later streets.

So, you can effectively float only in heads-up spots.

Equity as a backup plan

In the example above, on the board J♠8♦︎5♣︎, if an Ace or a Queen comes out, it will be the top pair, so even if the opponent has a Jack, you still have some equity.

Floating against an opponent's c-bets with lack of equity is suboptimal and not recomended.

Therefore, overcards, flush draws, straight draws, etc. are more suitable for floating than pure air.


Float is one of the poker moves that many players do without any thinking about, but if you call with weak hands without thinking about anything, you will just become a passive player.

When you float, it is better to think about whether raise or fold is not an option, and how often it is correct to float, even if you are in the same situation with the same hand.

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