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The Squeeze Play

The squeeze play is a move that players use in cash games, MTTs and SNGs to try to capitalize on dead money.

A squeeze play works like this; one player opens with a raise from early or middle position. A second player decides to flat the raise to see a flop, generally in position. When the 2nd player flats, this creates "dead money" in the pot. A 3rd player sees this and decides to make a raise trying to squeeze both the original raiser and the flatter out of the hand.

How is the Squeeze Play Successful?

The squeeze play is successful for a few different reasons.

For one thing, when the 3rd player squeezes, the original opener is likely to think that he (3rd player) is strong since he's raising over an early to middle position open and a flatter. Secondly, the first player will have to worry about what the 2nd player (the flatter) will do in light of the raise. Because of all this, the original opener will likely fold all but the top of his range.

Last, the second player (the flatter) will fold a large portion of the time because his flatting range here is going to be rather wide. His range is weak or moderately strong at best, otherwise he would've likely re-raised instead of flatted.

Why Use the Squeeze Play?

I'm sure there are a few different reasons. However, I use the squeeze play for the reason mentioned above - primarily to capitalize on the dead money.

For example, say these 3 players are playing in a tournament where they have 2,000 chip stacks at 50/100. The first player opens to 200 making the total pot 350 chips. Now, 350 chips make up about 17.5% of two remaining players' stacks. This is a pretty substantial amount.

However, when the 2nd player decides to flat for 200 more, this makes the pot 550. 550 chips make up about 27.5% of the 3rd player's stack which is a huge gain. The 3rd player can easily justify the risk and shove or "squeeze" here.

Again, the squeeze player works in cash games too. Say the same 3 players are in a $.50/$1 NLHE cash game and they all have $100 stacks. The first player opens to $1.50 making the pot $3 total. The second player flats which makes the pot $4.50 and the 3rd player makes it about $6.00 and squeezes the other two out of the hand picking up a $10.50 pot.

Tips for Making a Successful Squeeze Play

Using the squeeze play can put you in some nasty situations if you're not careful. So, here are a couple tips to keep in mind prior to making a squeeze.

  • You want to have a good read on your opponents. Ideally, opponent number 1 is moderately loose at least. If the original opener is on the tight side, it's likely that he doesn't have too many hands in his range that he's willing to fold, especially if he's opening from early position.

    Additionally, it's important to know too whether you've squeezed these players before and/or if they're capable of adjusting. The reason being is that if you squeeze enough, player one or two will likely try to trap you by opening or flatting a premium.
  • Squeeze with hands that play ok postflop. While your cards aren't that important, seeing as how you're more or less bluffing, you should still try to squeeze with hands that are going to play ok postflop. These hands would be like premiums, AK and suited connectors. I don't care to squeeze with off suit raggedy aces because often times you're going to be dominated if you're flatted. And you'll have to play out of position.
  • Your image is important. If you're a lag-y type player, you're squeezes are going to get less respect than if you were a tighter player. So, if you're on the loose side, you might not want to squeeze at all or you'll want to squeeze with hands that will play well verses light 4-bets like medium pocket pairs.
  • You should have some post flop skills. In situations where players are on the deeper side increasing implied odds and/or have position on you, it's possible that you're flatted after you squeeze. So you're going to have to be able to maneuver a flop, possibly out of position.

Summary of the Squeeze Play

The squeeze play is an extremely profitable play to know. It helps you to take advantage of looser/weak players while picking up pots of dead money that sometimes make up as much as 20-30% of your stack or more. These are huge gains.

That being said, the squeeze play is also one that can cost you a lot of money. If you don't develop reads and use them, pay attention to table images or don't use the squeeze play in moderation, this "profitable" play will be nothing short of expensive.

More General Poker Strategy
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