The Squeeze Play

by trikkur

The squeeze play is a powerful play in poker that can be used to win chips and assert dominance over a table. It’s not a move that should be used lightly, but it definitely has a place in the arsenal of any serious poker player. Although the squeeze play is primarily used in the mid stages of tournaments, it can also be used for the same reasons in cash games.

One of the primary advantages of the squeeze play is that it can win a lot of chips without seeing a showdown. This makes it an effective play for building a stack and building a table image as someone who should not be taken lightly. However, the squeeze play is also an easy way to lose a tournament when used incorrectly.

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How to Perform the Squeeze Play

The squeeze play is designed for very specific situations. In order to attempt a squeeze play, one opponent must make a preflop raise, another opponent must flat-call and you must be the last person to act in the sequence.

Here’s how a successful squeeze play works:

  1. One opponent makes a preflop raise
  2. A second opponent (and possibly more) flat calls that raise
  3. You come over the top with a big 3-bet
  4. Both opponents fold and you win a big pot

The key to doing the squeeze play properly is to choose the right opponents. It helps if the first opponent is somewhat loose and known for making frequent preflop raises. It also helps if the second opponent is a little tighter (he’s willing to call the raise, but probably will not call your reraise).

The reason you prefer a frequent raiser as the first opponent is because that opponent has a wider range of hands. You have a better chance to make this player fold than you would someone who only opens with AA, KK and QQ.

Additionally, a loose preflop raiser makes it more likely that the flat-caller has a weaker hand. The second player sees the loose preflop raiser making lots of raises and is willing to flat call a preflop raise in position with iffy hole cards. This is also a situation you may get another player or two that call behind with their weaker hands as well. You can still implement a squeeze play in this spot by making a large 3-bet; in fact, it is even stronger when used like this, but it forces you to risk more chips.

It is important that both opponents are able to fold hands in the face of strength. The squeeze play does not work against complete fish. They will call your 3-bet and force you to play after the flop. This is not desired because the squeeze play does not take into consideration the strength of your hand. You can perform the squeeze play with any two cards when against the right opponents.

If everything goes according to plan, your squeeze play will net you a nice batch of chips without seeing a showdown. You can see some good examples of the squeeze play in action during my Trikkur 10 poker training video.

Squeeze Play

The Advanced Squeeze Play

The advanced squeeze play is a high-risk, high-reward variation of the traditional squeeze play described above. This squeeze play requires a strong read on both players and should be used sparingly. Here’s what the advanced squeeze play looks like in action:

  1. A loose opponent raises before the flop
  2. A light 3-bettor re-raises
  3. You come over the top with a big 4-bet
  4. Both opponents fold and you win a big pot

This play requires two additional things to be in place before it’s even worth considering. First of all, you have to be confident that you know both players. These must be aggressive players who raise often and are willing to 3-bet with less than optimal hands. You cannot use this play against your typical unimaginative tight-aggressive player.

Secondly, both of your opponents must have enough chips after raising that they can fold their hands. In tournament situations, a 3-bet often commits the second player to the pot. Do not attempt the advanced squeeze play if your opponents are pot committed. You must also have enough chips in your stack to scare the opponents away.

It is rare that you have all these factors in place in a typical online poker tournament. You are often playing against unknown players and with shallow stacks. For that reason, the advanced squeeze play is seen more often in aggressive cash games in which the players have some history with each other.

Also note that I reference this play as a “cold 4-bet” in some of my videos. A normal 4-bet is when you raise preflop, the opponent 3-bets you, and you 4-bet them back. On the other hand, a cold 4-bet is when a 3rd player in the hand makes the 4-bet and I explain how this is an extreme sign of strength. Because this move shows so much strength, you can use it as a squeeze play to make the first two preflop raisers fold their hand.

Advantages of the Squeeze Play

The biggest advantage of the squeeze play is that it can help you win a good number of chips without seeing a showdown. You do not have to rely on the board cards or make difficult decisions after the flop. When the squeeze play is successful, it is an easy way to pad your chip stack.

The squeeze play is more effective than bluffing at a big pot on the turn or river because your opponents are less likely to have powerful hands. The squeeze play happens before your opponents have a chance to see any board cards and get attached to their hands.

Along those same lines, the squeeze play is more likely to be successful than a big turn or river bluff. It is tougher to bluff at big pots on the turn and river because those pots have been built for a reason; at least one of your opponents is likely to have a hand that he likes. Otherwise, the pot would not have grown in the first place.

The squeeze play can also improve your table image. After a successful squeeze play, people will see you as someone who is not scared to throw a bunch of chips in the middle. People will think twice before they try to pull anything fancy on you during big pots.

It is difficult to argue with the squeeze play. The original raiser has two people to act behind him while the person who flat-called that raise has not shown any strength. Even better: each of those opponents has seen signs of strength from two other players. Both players are out of position compared to you. With everything working against them, your opponents have all the incentive they need to fold.

Even if your opponents are suspicious, they have to risk more chips than you. You took the lead in the hand by being the aggressor and putting in the last big raise. Anyone who wants to come back over the top is forced to double your wager without knowing for sure what you have. Because of all the pressure the original preflop raiser is under, they will at times even fold strong hands like AJ-AQ or 88-TT.

Disadvantages of the Squeeze Play

The squeeze play is not a new trick and there’s no way to hide it. People who study poker strategy or watch my poker videos are already familiar with the squeeze play. They will know that there is a chance you are bluffing and they will occasionally try to re-steal the pot or bring you to a showdown with any decent hand.

Another disadvantage is that the squeeze play requires a significant investment of chips. If your squeeze play fails, you will lose more chips than you would have lost in a failed blind steal attempt. This can be devastating in the late stages of a tournament.

And finally, a failed squeeze play is doubly bad because not only do you lose chips, but you also lose table image – both of which make it tougher to steal more chips in the late stages. This is not so bad in cash games because you have all the time in the world to take advantage of a loose image or to reshape your table image.

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