The Squeeze Play in Poker
The Squeeze play is an advanced bluff that you can use in both tournament poker and no limit cash games. It’s a powerful move but like all powerful moves, it comes with a significant amount of risk, especially for tournament players.
Used at the right time, however, the squeeze play is a great way to add a lot of chips to your stack. It only takes one successful squeeze play to turn the tide of your tournament or add to your win rate in cash games.
Mechanics of the Squeeze Play
The squeeze play is implemented during the preflop betting round when one player has already raised and one other player has called that raise. This is when you come in with an even bigger raise and steal the pot from both players.
In a no limit Holdem tournament with 75/150 blinds
Player 1 raises to 450
Player 2 calls 450
You push all-in for 3,500
Players 1 and 2 fold and you collect 900 chips plus 225 chips from the blinds.
You just increased your chip stack from 3,500 to 4,625 with a single move.
You can also use the squeeze play in cash games but that requires an even more delicate touch. The difficulty in cash games exists because the blinds are a lot smaller in comparison to the stack sizes.
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Why It Works
When the squeeze play is successful, it’s because your raise says you have an extremely powerful hand. One person has raised, another person has called that raise and you’re so confident in your hand that you’re willing to push all-in on top of that with an even bigger raise.
The original raiser could have any number of hands but the player in the middle has told you something with his call. He thinks he has a decent hand but it’s nothing great or else he would have raised instead of called.
Your big raise puts pressure on both of the opponents. The original raiser has already been called by one person and re-raised by another. If he doesn’t have a really strong hand, there’s not much he can do he except fold. The person in the middle feels the pressure because he probably has a mediocre hand (refer to the above paragraph) and can’t call your all-in raise.
The cards in your hand don’t matter a big in the squeeze play. In fact, it’s assumed you don’t want a call, or else it wouldn’t be called a squeeze play; it would be called a value raise.
When to Use the Squeeze Play
You have to pick the perfect spots to use the squeeze play or else it’s just going to cost you a lot of money. There are four conditions that should be in place before you use the squeeze play:
1. The original raiser is a player who raises more often than most players
2. The person who called the raise knows how to fold
3. You have a tight table image
4. Your stack is big enough to get folds
You want the original raiser to be a loose raiser because it means he is more likely to hold a hand that will fold to your squeeze play. But you don’t want him to be so loose that he’ll call with anything. The reason you don’t want to try this against a tight player is because it means you’re more likely to be up against a legitimate hand.
The player caught in the middle has to be just the right type of player as well. He has to be smart enough to fold to a big raise but he can’t be so smart where he recognizes the squeeze play for what it is and snaps off your bluff.
You have to have a tight table image because you want your raise to actually get a little respect. If you have a loose image, people are just going to think you’re trying to steal the pot again and they’ll be much more likely to call your raise.
And last, your stack needs to be big enough that it makes people think twice before calling. If you’re short-stacked in a tournament and your raise is only double or triple what the opponents have already put in, they’re going to call you without even blinking an eye. Your stack needs to be big enough to where it could do either one of them some serious damage if they call and lose.