Monday, October 2, 2017

How to Float the Flop (And Take Away The Pot)

How to Float the Flop (And Take Away The Pot)
One of the absolute best strategies for beating up on the bad regs in today's micro stakes games is to float them frequently on the flop. This means that you call their continuation bet (CBet) with the intention of taking away the pot on a later street.

This has arguably been my biggest profit source in low stakes cash games in recent years. And the reason why is actually pretty simple when you think about it.

You can’t win at poker by folding! You simply have to start taking some more pots away from the regs in order to win big.

And even though there are going to be plenty of situations where the best option is definitely to fold (i.e. when you have nothing at all). There will be many other occasions where a pot is certainly winnable if we are just willing to fight for it a little bit.


Two Reasons to Float the Flop


There are two specific reasons to float the flop:
  • We have position
  • We have some sort of equity (to be explained more below)
The great thing about floating the bad regs at the lower stakes is that many of them still make it way too easy to take the pot away from them. It’s literally like taking candy from a baby sometimes.

The reason why is that you will encounter many Nits and TAGfish at the lower stakes who have a wide gap between their flop CBet% and their turn CBet%.

What this means in plain English is that they will frequently fire a bet on the flop but often they will give up on the turn if their opponent is still around in the hand.

By the way, if you want to know this for sure, then I would suggest that you download and use my free poker HUD.

So when they give up on the turn this often a simple bet is often enough to take it down. Sometimes it is so predictable that our actual hand becomes almost irrelevant.

Let’s look at a few examples.


Using Position to Take the Pot Away From a TAGfish


Example Hand

TAGfish villain raises from early position

You call from the button with:

float the flop versus the regs

Flop:

beat the nits poker

Villain CBets

You should CALL


In this situation we choose to flat call in position preflop against one of the weaker regs, a TAGfish.

It is important to open up your preflop calling range a little bit versus these types of players especially when you are in position. Because once again, you can’t win at poker by folding all the time!

Versus the weaker regs in particular I know that I can outplay them often enough to turn a profit here. If I can hit my hand, that’s great. But my plan is to try and take the pot away from them in many situations regardless of this.

And this is one of them.

On this dry board we didn’t really flop that great and our opponent is going to make a CBet a large amount of the time. What should we do?

Well, the most obvious play would be to just fold. We have no real pair or draw and our opponent is showing aggression. But elite poker players know that there is a more profitable decision here which is to float instead.


Look here’s the thing:

We can’t call preflop with a hand like this and just give up every time we don’t hit a pair or a good draw. This is a losing poker strategy since we won’t flop these hands very often and our opponent will frequently CBet.

So we are going to need to continue on some boards where we catch a small piece as well. And we did in fact flop a little bit of equity in this hand. We have a backdoor flush draw to the nuts and two overs.

Another reason why I am going to float on this board is because it is very unlikely to have connected with our opponent in any major way.

A fairly tight reg like this who opened in early position is going to have a range mostly consisting of pocket pairs, broadways and big aces. Very few of these hands will connect with this board in any meaningful way.

And perhaps the most important point of all. What do weak players like this do on the turn when we call and they have nothing?

That’s right, they give up.

Even if they do fire again on the turn there are still multiple ways that we can win the pot later on such as double floating, semi-bluff raising the turn and bluffing the river.

Since we are in position in this hand (which is a huge, huge key by the way), it makes all of these separate lines of attack much easier to successfully pull off.

If you want to start turning your winnings around at the lower stakes then hands like this are literally ground zero. Winning more of all these little pots that nobody really wants to fight for is the heart of next level poker.

This is a very winnable spot in position versus a weaker reg with some backdoor equity. Start taking away a few more pots like this instead of just folding like everybody else, and watch your winrate skyrocket.


Outplaying a Nit From the Blinds


Example Hand

Nit villain raises on the button

You call from the big blind with:

float the tagfish poker

Flop:


float the tight aggressive players poker

You check

Villain CBets

You should CALL or RAISE


Let’s look at another spot here against a weak reg (Nit) but this time we are out of position. Floating when you don’t have position in the hand definitely makes things a bit more difficult.

This is because we can’t just wait for them to give up on the turn and then make the easy bet to take it down.

Instead we will have to act first which means that we don’t have any information on whether they are giving up this time or they actually have something good.

While this definitely sucks, we still have to fight for some pots even when we are out of position. If not then we would be better off just folding preflop with a speculative hand like this.

This is definitely another one of those spots where the pot is winnable though. While we didn’t flop a pair or a strong draw we did in fact catch a small piece.

We have a gutshot to the nut straight, a backdoor flush draw and two overs. This gives us a decent amount of equity even if our opponent happens to have something really strong like top pair.

float the flop and bet the turn

And remember this is the worst case scenario (i.e. the top of our opponent’s range). Yet we still have almost 42% equity in the pot!

So at the very least I will be calling the flop CBet. When you are out of position like this it is also a good idea to mix in some flop leads and check/raises once in awhile as well though.

Since floating is quite a bit more difficult when out of position these lines allow you to try and take down the pot right now or at least regain the betting lead.

No matter which line of attack we choose there are several paths to victory on the turn as well. We are going to be continuing on a ton of different cards which improve our equity.


So in this case:
  • Any spade (9 cards)
  • Any 8 (4 cards)
  • Any J (3 cards)
  • Any T (3 cards)
This amounts to 19 cards which is nearly half of the remaining cards in the deck. This means that we will be floating again or applying pressure on the turn close to 50% of the time.

This is going to make it very difficult for a weak reg like this to continue unless he happens to have a really big hand.

Forcing the bad regs into uncomfortable spots like this cuts to the very heart of what winning poker is all about at these stakes. They simply aren’t going to be willing to go to war very often here.

So we can take advantage of this by floating and making aggressive plays at the pot when we flop any kind of reasonable equity.


Floating a Loose Aggressive Regular Blind vs Blind


Example Hand

LAG villain raises from the small blind

You call from the big blind with:

float the flop versus a loose aggressive player

Flop:

float the flop and bet the turn

LAG villain CBets

You should CALL


Versus the good regs you should also be floating a lot more often these days as well. And even though we should expect them to keep applying pressure on the turn more often, we have to get involved or we risk being run over.

We called preflop here with a hand that isn’t particularly amazing and doesn’t exactly play that well after the flop either. However it stands to be ahead of our opponent’s range and of course we have that beautiful thing called position as well.

In a blind versus blind situation like this you can expect a highly aggressive reg to be raising with a range as wide as 30%, 40% or sometimes even higher.

Here is how our hand does against a 35% range:

equity when floating the flop poker

Many regs at the lower stakes raise very light when it folds to them in the small blind because they know that they only have one person left to beat. And a lot of people still surrender their big blind far too easily.

This is why you should defend with a wide range in a situation like this. However, you don’t want to just 3Bet them every time or a thinking player like this will just go ahead and start 4Betting the crap out of you. So it is important to mix in some flat calls as well.

On this extremely dry paired board we need to be floating the flop once again. An aggressive player like this is going to be CBetting with nearly his entire range on this board. And there is no way that he connected with it very often.

We could also consider raising here. But the problem with this line is that we are representing so little on a board like this.

And a really smart player could realize this and bluff/re-raise us back, forcing us to fold. So this is a perfect spot to just float and try to take the pot away on later streets.

And yes, even though we expect to face a double barrel on the turn frequently from a player like this, there are still going to be many ways for us to win the pot.

The bottom line here is that you need to start fighting for more pots against the good regs as well. Floating the flop with a wider range in position is one of the best places to start.


Final Thoughts


Floating the flop and taking away the pot on the turn or river is literally a game changer at the micro stakes today. The best players are abusing the weaker regs over and over again with this simple play.

You want to really target the players with a wide gap between their Flop CBet% and Turn CBet%. This will almost always be the Nit and TAGfish player types.

It is important to float the better regs more often as well though as we discussed in the final example hand. Because once again, you don't win at poker by folding!

This entire strategy discussion (and the example hands) in this article were taken from a sample chapter in my brand new poker book The Micro Stakes Playbook.

In the full length book you will learn all of the strategies to exploit every player type in today's micro stakes poker games.

You will also learn dozens of more simple plays like this one that I have used to crush these games for some of the highest win-rates in online poker history.

You can learn more here.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below on floating the flop. How often do you use this strategy at the micros?

Lastly, if you found this article helpful do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

How to Float the Flop (And Take Away The Pot)

4 comments:

  1. Another great article Nathan! I have been using this strat in my games for awhile now (along with your HUD) and it works really well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. With JTs example:
    You have not 10 but 9 spades and 4 eights.
    It does not change a thing though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops thanks for pointing that out, I double counted the 8 of spades. I will fix it :)

      Delete