Squeeze Play

written by: John

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The squeeze play in poker is a slightly advanced maneuver that is used in both cash games and tournaments against two players preflop. It can be quite rewarding when successful, however it is tricky to pull off. You need to have an idea of your opponent's tendencies, stack sizes, blinds and your own table image in order to maximize your success rate when attempting a squeeze.

How to Perform the Squeeze Play

How a squeeze play works is one player will open the action with a raise and another player will flat behind. The "squeeze" comes from you raising in late position or from the blinds in order to squeeze the original raiser out of the pot and then inducing a fold from the player who flatted behind.

The idea behind this play is that the original raiser could be raising a wide range of hands, many of which would fold to a 3-bet. This is especially true if the raiser is loose. Now, the player who flatted is most likely weak as most players who flat behind are just as weak, if not weaker than the raiser. So when you make a squeeze, you can almost be sure that if the raiser folded, then the flatter will too.

The goal with using the squeeze play isn't so much to get value for your hand, but to collect all the dead money that is in the pot. In fact, often times your hand is almost irrelevant to your decision to squeeze - as long as it plays easy on the flop than that's all you need.   

Squeeze Example

For this example, say you have 67s in the big blind. The game is a 10nl 6-max and everyone has 100 big blind stacks. The cutoff raises it to $.40, the button flats and the small blind folds. The pot now has $.95 in it. Based on your assessment of the cutoff and button, you decide to squeeze. You make a raise of $.75 into a $.95 pot and the cutoff (raiser) folds and after some thought, the button folds too.

Squeeze successful. You pick up a $1.70 pot or 17 big blinds.

How to Ensure Your Squeeze is Successful

Squeezing is definitely a tricky play to pull off. You are often making a squeeze out of position and you need to induce not one, but two players to fold. So in order to make a successful squeeze play, there are variables you should consider before pulling the trigger.

• Is the raiser loose or tight? The tighter the raiser is, the less inclined I would be to try to squeeze. He probably has something if he's tight and raising from early position.

• Is the player flatting tricky? In other words, do you think he'd flat a premium hand such as aces behind the raiser? If not, is he capable of folding?

• What is your table image? Have you already squeezed a few times? If so, you might want to consider passing up a few opportunities in order to improve your image. Also, if you have been squeezing or squeezed in the past, you definitely need to be aware of the flatter's tendencies as it would be possible for them to trap with a premium hand. If you have been involved in tons of hands, I would also pass up squeezing opportunities as your raise will be given less credit and you'll be called more often and have to play hands out of position. A tight image is the most optimal for a squeeze to be successful.

• How are your abilities to play postflop poker?  Sometimes the squeeze won't work and you'll have to play a flop. If you are lacking experience playing postflop (especially out of position), then it might be best to avoid the squeeze play until this area of your game improves.

• What hand do you have? While you don't need to have AK to squeeze, you should have something that is at the very least playable in case you're called. A suited connector such as 6-7, 9-T or T-J would be fine because they are easy to play post flop. Either you connect or you don't.

• What are the stack sizes? The deeper you are, the more pressure you can apply. Ideally, you'd be able to put your opponent's at risk for all of their chips, but that won't always be possible if you are all deep. Just be sure that you are all deep enough so that no one is committed to calling a raise or shove.  

Using my example above, if the cutoff and/or the button only had $.60 left behind I probably wouldn't bother with a squeeze. It's just too likely that they would call.

• What are the blinds? If the blinds are low, say, 10/20 then squeezing is probably not worth your time given how risky the play is. Not to mention that squeezing from the get-go will give you an loose-aggressive image which will affect your ability to squeeze later on. Squeezing is much more profitable when the blinds are higher and more so when antes are involved. The idea is to find and collect as much dead money as possible.

Summary of Squeezing in Poker

The squeeze play can definitely be a profitable weapon in your strategy arsenal if used sparingly. Just keep in mind that for the play to work, you need to have plenty of fold equity. Your opponent's need to be loose (wide range of hands to fold), capable of folding and not pot committed. This is in addition to you having a tighter table image. If all of these variables are in place, then a squeeze play is definitely worth a shot.