22/11/2007

When Floating Affects Your Table Image

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Last week we took a look at floating in NL cash games and this week I want to take a little look at floating when you have outs and what this can potentially do to your image. We all know how important implied odds are in a game like no limit hold’em and we have all seen our fair share of bad play be it in live cardrooms or online.

But quite often, if you see what you think is a bad play then do not just automatically assume that your opponent is a dummy. Lets say that you are in the cut-off and hold the A-J and it has been folded to you. The game is $10-$20 no limit and you raise to $70 and the big stack on the button calls you with both blinds folding.

Flop comes 9-6-3 and with $170 in the pot, you fire a continuation bet of $120 at the pot and your opponent calls you. The pot now stands at $410 and you have a nice healthy stack yourself. The turn card is the 8 and to cut to the crux of the matter, your opponent not only takes the pot but also flashes you their 10-7 for a completed gutshot straight on the turn.

Then your mind starts racing and all of the following thoughts start to run through your head,

“Jesus... how the hell can this guy call with just a gutshot. He never had the odds, what a dummy this guy is and he deserves to lose his money and if I hang around long enough then I will stand a good chance of getting it... just try it again pal”

You know the story only too well, suddenly the injustice of it all is starting to affect you and when it happens again a few hands later then your emotional equilibrium isn’t quite what it was and you are in serious danger of tilting. But you need to take a good long hard look at that flop call because your opponent may not be the bad player that you think he is.

In most cases you cannot judge any player on the merits of one hand but look at the hand from the position of your opponent for a minute. He has position on you for a start and could be floating you only this time he is doing it with some kind of draw. But you cannot just assume that he was merely calling to hit a gutshot and most players in a $10-$20 are not “dummies”.

Your raise pre-flop in his mind could be indicating overcards depending on your image and what he thinks your range is so he has several ways of taking this pot down. His flop call places you under increasing pressure even if he misses the turn and calling instead of raising gives him an extra chance to hit his straight as he could get closed out of the hand by raising if you re-raise or go all in.

So calling gives him plenty of flexibility in how he plays his hand further down the line and the straight is the bonus and not the solitary objective behind his flop call. But when you see your opponent make a play like this then you have to be careful what label you attach to him based on this one play alone.

Put yourself into his shoes and imagine yourself making that same play with the same objective. Imagine for just one minute how this would look to your opponent and it is not hard to imagine what notes your opponent is going to be scribbling down based on what he has observed of your play in this one hand.

It is always nice to have several ways in which you can take a pot down and floating when you have outs gives you that option. Taking this a step further, imagine that there has been a situation where there have been several limpers and you check along from the big blind with the A-2. The flop comes 10-8-3 giving you the nut flush draw and you check and the player to your immediate left bets half pot and gets two callers before it gets to you. Not only are you getting good pot odds but implied odds as well.

Then when you hit your flush and show it down, you are in fact also setting up potential future plays that can win you pots. Three hands later and you get a chance to float and possibly represent a flush draw in your opponents mind with a two flush board. The pot is heads up and now you have created extra “outs” for your hand even though you are not drawing to the flush at all.

Is this play wise, sometimes yes but mostly it is just too risky at the lower levels where many of the stacks are not deep enough or because the play is just too fancy to be profitable on lower calibre opponents. But at a level where most of your opponents are thinking players then floating in this way gives you the potential opportunity to play around with their thought patterns. Anyone who would like to discuss this article or anything else for that matter is free to do so with me through either the forum or my website at www.pokersharkpool.com.

See you next week

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