Definition of Float
Float is poker slang, which means to call a bet regardless of hand value with the sole intention of setting that player up for later in the hand. In other words, your action now leads an opponent to react poorly at the next chance.
Generally, the etymology is attributed to Matt Szymaszek, a high-stakes poker player. He first used the term in an abstract sense: By calling now, he was floating or hovering above his “prey” ready to strike at the next chance.
In highly competitive poker environments, floating is a valuable weapon to have in one’s arsenal. Firstly, as a bluff-call, essentially, it is cheaper than a bluff-raise. Secondly, played well consistently, it is a very profitable proposition.
Consider this oversimplification:
Against a predictable opponent, it can be profitable to call a bet just to see what occurs on the turn.
Most of the time (~70%), the opponent will not have anything in his hand. In that case, he will check, and you will be able steal the pot with the same amount or an even lesser amount than it would have cost to raise-bluff earlier.
Sometimes (~30%), the opponent will have something in hand. When he does, he’ll bet again. At that point, you fold, and save yourself the amount that the bluff-raise would have cost. Over the long term, you come out ahead.
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