Squeeze play

In poker, there are many moves that are often strange for outsiders. ‘What does he do?’ – ‘Did not he see his cards?’. One of these moves is the squeeze play.

Of course, you have often been in the following situation: You are sitting on the button, the loose cut-off opens and you call with a suitably-suited connector. The big blind bets on a 3-bet that fold-off folds, and you too severely part with your suited connector. A similar situation a few laps later: the cut-off opens and you call with a promising pair 55. The aggressive big blind is again setting up a 3-bet. The cut-off throws his hand away and you, too, have to leave your couple, a bit annoyed. Without seeing a flop, the big blind profits with its aggressive preflop tactics: Welcome to the Squeeze Play!

Definition of the squeeze play

A loose player opens the pot with a raise and is called. A player from late position or from the blinds bets a 3-bet or more precisely a 3-bet bluff to steal the pot preflop.

Why does squeeze play work?

In order for the squeeze play to be as successful as possible, the player who raises the pot should be a relatively low-skilled player – a player with a very wide opening range and, on average, a relatively weak hand. The hand of the caller is most likely also only medium strong, otherwise he would have even set a 3-bet. The decisive re-raise to steal the pot preflop, the squeeze, has a very high probability of success in this scenario and is therefore very profitable.

What do you have to keep in mind when squeezing play?

As mentioned earlier, squeeze play is all about the situation. If a player opens with a tight range, then you should avoid squeezing. You have the greatest chance of success against a player who opens very wide but gives up many of his hands against a 3-bet. Your hand strength is relatively unimportant for the squeeze play (the stacks are deeper, then hands with good postflop playability choose).

You should always be aware of which table image you have right now. If you have a tight image, your teammates will also pay more respect to your 3-bet and give up their hand. If you have a rather bad image, then you should avoid this move.

Another important point is the stack sizes – this is especially true in tournament situations. Attack players with mid-sized stacks and avoid desperate short stacks looking for situations to double their stack. Even players with very large stacks tend to make very loose 3-bet calls in tournaments. Also note that your 3-bet does not risk too much of your own stacks and ‘commites’ to it.

o Squeeze play depends on the situation – not on your hand strength
o the opening player should have a wide range
o you should have a tight image
o Note stack sizes

In the late phase of a tournament, you are on the button and have 26,000 chips left – all other players cover you. The blinds are 1000/2000. The loose hi-jack opens at 5,000 and the cut-off calls.

This is a typical scenario for a ‘compulsory squeeze’ (in the live game I would normally not watch my cards here, but of course pretend). You risk 26,000 chips to win 13,000 (5,000 + 5,000 + 1,000 + 2,000). So, your opponents have to fold in about 2/3 of a time to make this turn profitable immediately (if we still calculate our post-flop equity, you only need about 50% fold equity).

Example WSOP 2004
Probably the most famous squeeze play occurred in 2004 at the Word Series of Poker at the final table:

o Greg Raymer 7,920,000
o Josh Arieh 3,890,000
o Matt Dean 3,435,000
o David Williams 3,250,000
o Glenn Hughes 2,375,000
o Dan Harrington 2,320,000
o Al Kruk 2,175,000

Josh Arieh, a very loose and aggressive player, opens up to 220,000 with K9o. Greg Raymer called with A2s and Dan Harrington increased from the button with 62o to 1.200.000. Dan Harrington, one of the old-guns with a very tight image, wins the pot and even kicks David Williams, who throws away AQ without thinking twice.


Squeeze play can be a very efficient and profitable ‘weapon’. But always pay attention to the situation and your table image – otherwise your ‘weapon’ can backfire very easily.

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