Float Bets & Probe Bets | MED #8 Class 3 | Poker Podcast #147

I discuss two specific plays to make against a reluctant cbettor; Probe and Float bets.  These are great ways to get the pre-flop raiser to fold when conditions are right.

In episode 146, I discussed the Donk Bet: why you should rarely do it and also how to defend against it because your weaker opponents use it all the time.

Making Successful Float Bets and Probe Bets (1:40)

Floats and Probes are commonly used for bluffing.  These bets are a little different than the Donk Bet or the Check-raise in that they specifically relate to facing off against a pre-flop raiser who had the option of cbetting but chose not to.  They could be made for value, but we’re focusing on the bluffing aspects of these plays.

One thing to note is that they are often made by players who don’t really know what to do, and they’re just betting for information.  Don’t ever put yourself in that situation.  Betting for information isn’t a +EV decision.

4 Parts to Good Bluffing Strategy (2:40)

1. Naming Better Hands That Can Fold

Before you make any bluff, you should be able to name hands that beat you but can also be folded to your bet.

2. Targeting Foldy Players

The best bluff targets are those who often fold on the street you’re attempting to bluff on.  The more often they fold there, the more likely your bluff will work.

3. Considering the Opponent’s Range and Board Interaction

This is critical in making successful bluffs.  The less likely their range hit the board, the more likely you’ll succeed.  If their range smacks the board, your bet is just giving them the value they want out of their strongest hands.

Bluffs are also more successful if your expected range interacts well with the board.  If you just called pre-flop, you’ve got lots of sc’s, small-medium pairs and suited Aces.  On a board like 457ss or 689sss, your opponent has to be pretty scared you hit something worth betting.

For more info and practice with range/board interactions, listen to episode #134 where I talked about range and board interaction and gave you a great way to study it along with a helpful spreadsheet.

4. Being In Position

In real estate and retail the rule of the day is location, location, location.  In poker it’s position, position, position.  Being IP helps your bluffs succeed.

Float Bet (4:35)

Day to day players think of the Float Bet as just calling one street with intent to bluff a future street.  You’ll often hear LIVE players talk about it this way.  But, for online players, the definition is way different.

PokerTracker 4 Definition

A Float Bet is an IP bet when the pre-flop raiser checks instead of making a cbet.

For example, you called an UTG raise on the button. The flop comes down, they check instead of cbetting, and you decide to throw out the bet.

When should we make a Float bet?

The easy answer is, most of the time.  The pre-flop raiser showed weakness by checking to us.  Most of the time these checks are a big display of weakness that we should pounce on.  Don’t Float every time, though.  Consider those 4 aspects to good bluffing:

  1. Naming better hands that can fold
    • Take some time to think of hands within their range that are going to check/fold on this board. Can’t name any, then don’t bluff.
  2. Targeting foldy players
    • If you know they’re flop honest OOP, then it’s a great opportunity to bluff.
  3. Considering the Opponent’s Range and Board Interaction
    • This goes along with naming the better hands they can fold. Put them on a pre-flop raising range and determine how well this interacts with the board before you bluff.
  4. Being IP
    • You’re IP and that bodes well for your bluff success

Stats to Consider

Cbet IP vs OOP: if they show their honesty with a small Cbet % when OOP, then their check is a great indication they’re weak here and likely to fold.

Fold to Float Bet by street:  The higher their Fold to Float bet is on the street you’re on, the more successful your bluff will be.  Look for anything over 50%, and of course the higher the better.  A 2/3 ps bluff needs to work only 40%.

Probe Bet (11:30)

Most people use the terms “probe” and “stab” interchangeably.  It’s basically just trying to see where you’re at in the hand by making a “feeler” bet to gain information or to just take it down. It’s often a weak bluff.

PokerTracker 4 Definition

A Probe Bet is made OOP on the next street after the pre-flop raiser checks behind on the prior street.

For example, you call a raise from the BTN in the BB. The flop comes, you check, and the button checks behind. Because of his display of weakness on the flop, you decide to bet out of position on the turn.

When should we make a Probe bet?

Again, the easy answer is, most of the time.  The pre-flop raiser showed even more weakness this time by checking to us when IP.   Yeah, he could be slow-playing a monster, but giving up an early street of value isn’t normally how most players play their strong hands IP.

We don’t want to make the probe bet every time, though.  We’ve got to be selective because we’re OOP.  Let’s look at the Probe Bet with those 4 aspects to good bluffing in mind:

  1. Naming better hands that can fold
  • Always try to name the better hands than yours that you can get to fold when bluffing. If you can’t name any, consider not making the bluff.
  1. Targeting foldy players
  • If you know they’re flop honest IP, then you’ve got to make the bluff. Most players are less honest IP, so finding honest ones can be tough.  But, when you do, you’ve got to take advantage of them.
  1. Considering the Opponent’s Range and Board Interaction
  • Range and board interaction always plays a critical role in this post-flop decision. Put them on a pre-flop raising range and determine how well this interacts with the board before you make your OOP bluff.
  1. Being IP
  • Now, we’re OOP, which makes our bluff even less likely to succeed. If all the other factors are looking for for a bluff, then go ahead.  But your terrible position coupled with maybe a passive calling station or a range that connects with the board well, makes for a bad bluffing opportunity.

Stats to Consider

Cbet IP for Flop/Turn Honesty: you want to see street honesty on the street before you plan to make the Probe Bet.  If they’re very flop honest with a tiny, sub 30% cbet, then Probe the turn.  If they’re very honest on the turn, then Probe the river.

Fold to Turn or River Probe Bet:  The higher their Fold to Probe bet is, the more likely it’ll succeed.  Once again, look for over 50%, with the higher the better.

Studying Float/Probe Situations (15:40)

There are four PokerTracker 4 filters you can run, and they’re all under “Actions and Opportunities”:

  1. Review your own Float bets by filtering for flop, turn or river Float Bets made
  2. Check out instances where you faced the Float Bet by filtering for an opportunity called “Raise Float Bet Opportunity”
  3. Review your own Probe Bets by filtering for turn or river Probe Bets made
  4. View instances where you faced the Probe Bet by filtering for an opportunity called “Raise Probe Bet Opportunity”

Run through the hands that get returned from this filter and learn from mistakes made and big pots lost.

Challenge (16:50)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  The next three sessions you play, use a tick sheet to record the reason for each bet or raise you make.  Write the words Bluff and Value on the sheet of paper.  If you bet for value, put a tick next to it.  If you make a bluff, put a tick next to “bluff”.  At the end of the session count the number of bluff bets you made vs the value bets.  There’s no optimal ratio, but it’s good to see what type of player you generally are, a bluffer or a value better.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.


J.K. purchased a copy of My Smart HUD.  Thanks for the support, and you’ve made a step towards improving your opponent reads.  Get your own copy here: https://www.smartpokerstudy.com/SmartHUD

Sky Matsuhashi
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