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Poker Squeeze Play

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We talk about "squeeze play" when we refer to an advanced (usually pre-flop) move you can use in cash games and tournaments. The squeeze play can have good results provided you use it with caution.

What is a squeeze play?

A squeeze play is when a loose poker player raises from early position and then another player calls before you and you make a big re-raise and win the pot.

What you are doing basically is taking advantage of the loose player and the other opponent who believed he could call the loose raise holding a weaker hand than they would regularly call with and get away with it.

  • The loose raiser can't call since they probably raised with a weak hand.
  • The caller will not call because they also had a weak hand when they called the first raise.

Making a successful squeeze play

Using the squeeze play in poker is determined by the situation, not the cards you hold. You need to read the situation properly when you use this play or it could cost you. You should understand how to use the play before you use it instead of trying it and improve it while you are playing.

Squeeze play example

When a loose-aggressive poker hold'em player opens for a raise pre-flop you get a typical squeeze play situation. Another opponent later calls the raise and then it's your turn to act. At this point, you reraise or go all-in and as a result the initial raiser and the caller fold and you win the pot. This is how it works:

Player A: Raises
Player B: Calls
Player C: Re-raises All-in
Players A+B: Fold
Player C: Wins

For the purposes of this example we have assumed that the other players at the table have folded just before or after Player A raised.

Squeeze plays in cash games and when deep-stacked in tournaments

If you decide to make a squeeze play in a cash game or at the beginning of a tournament chances are that you'll be deep stacked and you won't have the option of going all-in. However, if you got strong readings on the other players you still have the chance to make successful squeeze plays.

When you make a squeeze play a good size for your reraise would be 4 times the size of the initial raise. Stick to hands that have potential (such as suited connectors) when it comes to squeezing, just in case someone calls your squeeze.

If your post-flop game isn't up to scratch, you should not squeeze when you are in a cash game or if you are deep-stacked in a poker tournament.

Why the squeeze play works

Player A's table image is the source of the effectiveness of the squeeze play. Player B has noted that A has raised frequently pre flop and he knows he is less likely to hold a strong hand. As a result, B decides that he can call this raise even when he has a mediocre hand because there is a chance he is ahead and has position on Player A.

The second player decides to call the initial raise because they know that there are few chances that the loose raiser has a great hand.

When it's the turn of Player C to act, he knows that there are no many chances that either of the players have strong starting hands, and as a result he moves all-in and forces Player A and B into a decision for all their chips with mediocre hands. Player A decides to fold since he only has the strength to raise and not call, and Player B decides to fold since he just wanted to call the size of Player A's raise in order to see the flop.

Player A decides to fold because when they raised they had a weak hand, and player B decides to fold since they called holding a mediocre hand but believing that player A had a weaker hand than them.

The cards that Player C holds have no influence on the result of the play. The move turned out to be successful since Player C read the situation in an accurate way and acted based on it. Although it may sound quite simple, other factors intervene to make this play work.

Tips for using the squeeze play

Reads on the opponents

The readings you get on the players who act behind you are as important as the readings you get on the opponents who raise and call. You need to be sure that the player who acts behind you won't call your all-in or you'll be in a difficult situation.

This is the reason why it is simpler to make the squeeze play when you are in a later position and there are less possibilities that you bump into another player who holds a premium hand. The fewer players who act behind you, the more chances of success the play will have.

Table image

Your table image is important in the play. When you have been involved in several pots and plays, you are not in the best position to make a squeeze play in poker Texas Hold'em because you need your opponents to think you have a great hand and force them to fold.

Your opponents will be more likely to call if they see that you have been making moves with marginal hands. The play will be more successful if you only use it when you have a tight table image.

The size of your re-raise

The size of your reraise is also important because it has to be large enough to force your opponents off their hand. This is the reason why generally the reraise is an all-in.

Your re-raise will be most effective as an all-in, provided you are not deep-stacked.

In case you have a short stack and your all-in is two or three times the size of the original bet, you haven't many chances of making them fold because you'll be giving them odds to call with almost all hands. In general, your all-in should be a minimum five times the original raise if you want the play to be effective.

One last point

One important thing you have to take into account is if the blinds and raises are worth fighting for. An all-in squeeze play will not be really useful if you are in the early stages of an MTT since you will be risking your continuation in the tournament for a small pot.

You should make sure that the size of the pot is big enough to be worth the trouble but at the same time small enough to prevent your opponents from calling your all-in.

Poker squeeze play evaluation

Depending on how accurately you read your opponents your squeeze play will be more or less successful.

If you want to make the play work you need a loose raiser, a loose caller and a strong all-in. This play will make your game stronger but you should use it carefully in order to preserve its credibility.

Take into account that the anticipated reaction to your play must be as strong as the credibility of the way in which you react to your opponents play.

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