Playing online poker or even the live version of the game in a land-based casino is no easy task if your opponents are worth their salt. Yes, the game of poker in itself is an easy one to understand, but especially in recent years, it has become a very technical, methodical, mathematical, and strategic game.

There’s a lot of strategy involved in playing poker, and sometimes going into a cash game or a tournament unprepared is a rather costly thing to do. What most of us get wrong at first is not taking advantage of the power of a counterattack when facing a bluff attempt. Bluffs are not easy to catch and more often than not, the most aggressive player is the one winning the pot, regardless of the hand he’s holding.

Despite the common belief that the most advantageous position in poker is when you are supposed to act the last on every street (that is true, I am not saying it’s a myth), people often understand this as advice to play passively. And that is a huge mistake. Aggression pays off in poker, especially if you do it to the right players in the right context and if you go into a hand with a good plan.

What does it mean to float the flop in poker?

When it comes to power moves that are profitable in poker, floating the flop is perhaps the one that is used the most often. Floating the flop means calling a bet on the flop, especially when facing a pre-flop aggressor, hoping to take down the pot on later streets either by hitting your winning hand or bluffing.

It is most commonly done when post-flop action is heads-up, against a pre-flop raiser you suspect has hit nothing on the flop and is c-betting you with air. The move works most of the time and can be responsible for a decent amount of chips you earn throughout a tournament or even in cash games.

It is just as effective in all poker competitions, regardless of their format, but is something you will want to use with relative caution and not too often. If you do this on every hand from a good position, other players will soon catch on and you will start seeing quite a lot of 3-bets on the turn and river.

 

When, how, and why should you float the flop when playing poker?

Here’s a more in-depth explanation about floating the flop and how, when, and why it works. Let’s assume you’re playing a poker tournament, you are in the mid-late stage, in the money. You have a decent stack, but the blinds are starting to hurt a bit.

You can’t afford to just wait for premium hands, since the tournament starts to get rather fast-paced towards the end, and an all-in or fold strategy would be too risky considering that you are not short stacked. You play your decent hands from the dealer and cut-off positions, but keep missing the flop. Pre-flop aggressors keep forcing you to fold to their c-bets and your stack is bleeding with every ante, small blind, and big blind that passes.

Try this. Instead of folding to c-bets on the flop, try floating the flop instead. This means calling the c-bets even if you missed the flop and see what your opponent does on the turn. More often than not, your opponent misses the flop as well but takes advantage of the fact that he was the pre-flop aggressor and c-bets you into thinking he has you beat.

If you call the c-bet on the flop you will be surprised by how often your aggressor suddenly gets destabilized and checks the turn instead of betting again for value. That’s because there is no value there for him to bet for. It was just a bluff, disguised as a c-bet.

If your aggressor checks the turn, you can either choose to take a free card if your hand can improve on the river ( straight draw, flush draw, or two overcards), or try to take the pot right then and there with a good size bet. Checking the turn as well is usually a very tricky move for your opponent.

He will have no idea why you called the c-bet on the flop and he will be forced to make a very tough decision on the river: does he check, allowing you to choose whether you take a cheap showdown he knows he can’t win, or does he bet with a busted hand hoping you didn’t hit the card you needed on the river?

Since you are in position, you hold all the options. It is up to you to take control of the hand and decide whether you want to steal the pot with a well-sized bet on the turn or river or whether you go to showdown without investing any more chips. Regardless of your choice, the simple fact that you have more information than your opponent and more options in regards to cheap extra cards on the board or a free showdown puts you at a considerable advantage.

 

Final thoughts on floating the flop

Floating the flop is a great move to try both in cash games and in the late stages of a poker tournament. It’s a great way of checking if your opponent actually has a hand or was just c-betting the flop with air.

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