Picking the correct floating hand in poker

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Floating is a fantastic weapon to have to be a successful player. To refresh the beginner’s memory, floating consists of calling a bet extremely lightly on the flop or turn with the intention of making a move at the pot by the end of the hand. Also as a reminder, floating works better in position and in heads-up pots. Instead of floating a lot with hands that have little or no equity, why not float with hands that have a better chance at winning? Let me explain.

Situation 1
You call a middle-position open from the cutoff with 4-4. The flop comes KH-7S-3C. Your opponent c-bets and you choose to float.

Equity vs. a top-pair hand is 10 percent.

Situation 2
You call a middle-position open from the cutoff with8H-9H. The flop comes KH-7S-3C. Your opponent c-bets and you choose to float.

Equity vs. a top-pair hand is 10 percent.

Which situation is better?

In Situation 1, you have three options when floating the flop: Turn your set, float the turn again or make a move on fourth street (turn your hand into a bluff).

No matter which line you choose to use in this case, 4-4 will only improve about 5 percent of the time by the river (if you don’t turn a set).

In Situation 2, your options are different as about 47 percent of the time you are going to turn a pair, a straight draw or a flush draw. Now calling or raising the turn makes a lot more sense as your odds have dramatically improved.

When turning a six or 10 for an open-ended straight draw, you are 18 percent to make the best hand by the river.

When turning a heart, you are 20 percent to make a flush.
When turning the 6H or 10H, you are 34 percent to make a straight or flush by the river.

When turning the 5H or JH, you are 27.27 percent to hit your gutter ball or flush by the river.

That makes floating with 9H-8H a lot better than floating with a small pair.

Think about all of that when you choose to float!

— Natasha is a pro who lives in Tampa, Fla.. You can follow her on Twitter @natashabarbour.