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Texas Holdem Poker Tips – What is squeeze play?
Squeeze play refers to bluffing on the first betting round with a big raise if someone raises and at least one person calls.
Nowadays, it is very common in intermediate to high level no-limit cash games, except for the small-ball style. I sat down and played the game for a while a while ago and found that more than 80% of the raised base pools took the squeeze play. Today’s multi-tables are so focused on volume and grinding out higher win rates that squeeze play has pretty much become the default play in any raise/call bottom pool, regardless of what the player is holding.
If you’re a loose and aggressive player like me who likes to flat call with a lot of hands in back position (like trying to hit a lot of bottom pots from a favorable position with flush straights and small pocket pairs), then this style of play can hurt you. Because of the fear of being squeezed, you can’t play a bottom pot with one raise in favorable position and have to fold marginal hands.
Call with a big hand to counter the squeeze play
Calling with a big hand guarantees you the highest profit when you resist the squeeze play with any possible trick. This play must be done with caution; it can also spell disaster for you if you are not vigilant.
You want to accomplish three goals with this play：
- Isolating your opponent in a disadvantageous position
- Hide your own hand
- Maximize the potential profit of your big hand
The concept is fairly simple, but I will tell you a few factors that may influence your decision on the best use of this play：
The likelihood of your opponent making a squeeze play and his tendency to keep betting
Take some time to notice who the most aggressive players at the table are. Try to determine if you would choose to call with an overcall if they were in a good position to squeeze. Also, make sure that these players will keep betting after being called. Once the trap is set, this will help you determine the preflop play.
Your opponent’s impression of you
If you notice a lot of squeeze play at the table, you can call a counter-raise or two with a medium hand when you have position. If you don’t hit the flop, your opponent will fire and take down the bottom pot. He will then most likely treat you as a player who plays loose and weak. When you do get the hand, this is to your advantage.
The further forward you are in position to call a pre-flop raise, the more likely you are to be squeezed by your opponent.
The number of people acting before you
If you get squeezed, having 2 or more callers in addition to your own call can greatly increase your chances of winning a big bottom pot. Also be prepared, as this also increases the risk factor.
When I say big hands, I mean the top 4 hands: AA, KK, QQ and AK. The actions you take after being squeezed are different when you are dealt one of these hands.
The four squeeze play situations
You are sitting at a 6 player table in a 2/4 game of Unlimited Derby and squeeze play is rampant. You notice that 2 players are particularly active when in the blinds, squeezing almost every time someone raises and calls the antes. Now here’s your chance. A loose player opens the pool in gun position, the two players in front of you fold, and you flat call with AK diamonds in CO position (ut off, the first position to the dealer’s right), waiting for an aggressive player in one of the blind positions to counter-raise.
As you would expect, the big blind 3bets and the player in gun position folds. Now you have several options. It’s OK to flat call again, but it’s risky. Your hand can certainly be covered and you can beat a lot of cards in his range like AQ, AJ, or even AT to take down a big bottom pot if you hit the ace. The problem with this hand is that if you don’t hit the flop, you’ll be in a tough spot when he keeps betting. In my opinion, the best play at this point is to go all in. The worst case scenario is usually when you flip a coin with your opponent. This is a profitable play since your all-in has a fold win rate. In this case, you go all-in and your opponent folds, you still increase your chips.
You are sitting in button position at a 6 player table in a 5/10 Texas game with a crazy squeeze player sitting in the big blind. The preflop raiser opens the pot and the CO position flat calls. You get pocket aces, flat call, and wait for the battle to ignite.
As you would expect, the big blind 3bet’d. The muzzle position raiser calls and the CO position calls. It’s beautiful! In this situation, you’re in good position to hold the best hand and have a big stack of chips in front of you waiting to be pocketed with an all down.
You go all in and the squeeze player in the big blind immediately folds. The muzzle position player thinks for a moment and then calls! The CO position player folds. The CO position player folds. Muzzle position shows pocket jacks and your AA holds up to win, taking down this huge bottom pot.
What really comes into play in this situation is that by the time you flat call with AA, there are already 2 players in the pot. I have noticed that this play is particularly effective at hiding hands. Because of your position and the players already in the pool, they don’t think you have AA or KK.
You are in the small blind and directly to your left is an aggressive 3bet player/squeeze player. You look down and see KK. the CO position opens the pot and the button position flat calls. You flat call with KK and wait for the big blind to squeeze. He doesn’t squeeze and the big blind folds. The opponent in button position hits bottom two pair on the flop circle and wins you some chips…ugh. Where did it all go wrong this time? While you’re 90% sure your opponent will squeeze, you’re not 100% sure. Even the most aggressive players are generally reluctant to play hands that have absolutely no potential.
The positive thing about this type of play is that if you get squeezed at this point, your hand can be completely covered. The likelihood of you taking down a big bottom pot is very high, as no one would normally think that you would flat call in the small blind with any good hand after two players have called. Going all-in in this spot after a squeeze always lures a medium-sized hand like TT or AQ to call. The problem is that there’s only one other Draper’s Circle APP player behind you who is likely to squeeze, so your chances of getting the desired result are greatly reduced. At these times, I would normally recommend that you reraise in the small blind unless you are willing to risk being in a tricky situation.
You have pocket aces in HJ (Hi-jack in derby terms, the hijack position, the second position to the dealer’s right) and flat call a raise from the gun position, hoping that an aggressive squeeze player in the blinds falls into the trap. You call and CO position and button position fold. The small blind position reraises back and the first player to raise folds. So you’ve done your job of isolating your opponent in unfavorable position and disguising your hand. It’s time to maximize value and you call.
Your opponent’s hand is: K♦Q♣
Your hand is: A♣A♦
The flop reads: Q♣6♥7♥
Your opponent fires a three-quarters bet to the antes, and you move all in. The reason you go all-in instead of making the standard raise is that the flop is too audible. Not only can you give your opponent unfavorable odds if he hits a listening hand on the flop, but you are also likely to induce a hand that hits a pair to call. The opponent himself is more likely to presume that your overbet is a call, and he thinks about it and calls. The turn and river are both harmless hands, and your chips are increased.
As you can see, there are many plays that can be taken after you set a trap. The most important factors you have to consider before executing this play I have already mentioned above. This play maximizes your profits. I have found that the profits of big hands are significantly improved.
Another advantage of this style of play is that your opponents are less likely to continue to squeeze you after they see you flat call with a big hand. You can again extend the flat call when you have position. They will be afraid to have a trap because they know you have a knack for setting traps.
Nothing works 100% of the time for all players playing poker. But it is a powerful weapon to turn a disadvantage into an advantage when you face a squeeze play at the table.