Thursday, August 21, 2008

Floating 101

Quick nonpoker observation - Usain Bolt is a freakin machine.

For those of you that don't know, this guy crushed the 100m dash in the Olympics, cruising the last 20-30m (that's a fifth to the third of a race!!) with arms wide open as if to say "GET YOUR POPCORN READY!" Some people talked about how he should have ran through the race to really make the world record untouchable. The way I see it, he's running against 8 other allegedly fastest guys on earth. If he can crush them that bad, hell, I wouldn't say shit if he turned around and ran backwards the last 20 meters. Taunt away. I love showmanship. Is that even a word? I don't know. Whatever. And then I watched him destroy the 200m last night. Oh my god. Last night, the 8 others on that field must have felt what it feels like to get up to the tee earlier in the year when Tiger was crushing it. They're fighting for second cuz the top player is so dominant. Just sickening.

Alright... back to poker...

So, today, I wanted to talk about floating. In the past, and maybe still at 1-2NL and below, if you were in position, one of the moves you could make was to float the flop cbet with the intention of taking it away on the turn. For a while, the cbet was like the norm and people were pretty much cbetting any flop. So, one of the things that worked if you were in position is that you can call one bet on the flop to see if the guy actually has a hand. Unless he can double barrell, you can take the pot away on the turn when he checks to you. Now, I'm assuming everyone knows what floating means. Basically, floating is cold calling a bet, usually without really a draw, with the intent of taking the pot away on the turn. Now of course, if you are randomly doing it, it's probably more prone to becoming a leak rather than a move. The key here is to be able to read your opponent as well as understand the texture of the board. For example, let's say a fairly tight MP raises and you call from the CO with a suited connector... let's say, 67s. The flop comes AK9 rainbow. If he cbets, you calling here is certainly called floating but probably not a good idea. I think it's more effective when the texture of the board is unlikely that it hit your opponent. And then the key would be to try to see what hand you can convince your opponent that you have.

Full Tilt Poker Game #7734621116: Table Trails End (6 max) - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:05:49 ET - 2008/08/21

5 handed

Seat 2: Hero ($400) <--- BB
Seat 6: Villain ($400) <--- SB

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [2s 2c]
3 folds
Villain raises to $16
Hero calls $12

I debated 3 betting here and I think that's fine too. But, the villain is an aggro so I decided that he's more likely to 4 bet here if he had any two face which I obv wouldn't be able to call. Plus, I felt that if I hit a set, I could get paid a fair amount. But I could really go either way. Just one example of a hand where I call instead of 3 betting.

*** FLOP *** [5s Ad Ah]
Villain bets $20
Hero calls $20

Now, this is a standard cbet by the villain. But with the board being what it is, it's very unlikely that the villain hit his hand. Of course, he could have and that's the danger of floating. Now, another thought might be that it's very likely that I have a better hand here than the villain so why not raise? I gave that some thought as well. But, this villain was an aggro but he wasn't completely clueless. So, at this point, regardless of the cards, I decided that I'm gonna play this hand like I have the A. And here, if I had the A, this is how I would play it. So I chose to smooth call here with intent of taking the pot away on the turn. Here, my cards are 22 but really, that's insignificant. It's all about the texture of the board.

*** TURN *** [5s Ad Ah] [4c]
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain bets $56
Hero raises to $156
Villain folds
Uncalled bet of $100 returned to Hero
Hero wins the pot ($181)

The turn card was about as good as I can ask for. Another low card that's unlikely to hit the opponent. Villain was bold enough to fire out another bet, knowing full well that I could be floating the flop with two face cards but without the A or a high pocket pair, he cannot call this raise especially the way it's been played. The only thing I'm noticing now is that my raise size could have been smaller. Here, I make a move to take it away but keep in mind that if the villain shoves, I can't call here. And if he doesn't have the A, he will fold even if I bet like $125. In other words, if smaller bet sizes would accomplish the same goal with the same percentage of risk, making the bet size smaller would obviously save you some money in the long run. Bet sizing is so key in the long term winnings of a player.

Either case, it worked out here. In a tough 6 max game where the players are constant raising, betting, and 3 betting, you're gonna have to really learn to read the texture of the board and make plays at times to keep you afloat. The best players know how to do this which is why if you look up some of the very strong regulars, they will be showing ridiculous BB/100 numbers. That's generally a result of knowing when to turn up the heat and playing their opponents' cards instead of their own.


Mike Maloney said...

Do you worry about making your raise too small, to the point it looks suspicious and your opponent might shove on you with air? I know I've bluffed people off of hands when they raise me in position because their bet size looks so shady.

Gnome said...

If I were sitting at the table with you, I'd have a hard time believe that you cold-called preflop with Ax. Maybe that's in part because I almost never do so myself.

Anonymous said...

Great text, interesting read. Really like your blog.