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Explain Poker Like I’m Five: The Squeeze Play

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Apr 01, 2015


When you’ve played poker for years, it’s easy to forget that technical poker speak may as well be a different language. Many players just picked up a deck of cards for the first time and are wondering what the hell a reverse implied range merge against a large stack to pot ratio is.

Maybe you are new to poker as well and want to start analyzing the game at a deeper level, but the lingo and foreign concepts get in the way. To help, Card Player brings you this brand new series, Explain Poker Like I’m Five.

Every issue, we’ll take on a new term or idea, perhaps one you might come across elsewhere in this very magazine, and we’ll break it down to its simplest components.

The Concept: The Squeeze Play

What Is It?

After an initial raise and call, you have the opportunity to win the pot with a less than premium hand, usually in late position, by making a large three-bet. This move effectively plays your opponents against each other and makes it very difficult for them to continue in the hand. This move is usually done preflop, although it can be used on later streets. It can also be done against more than two opponents in particularly passive games.

Okay, Now Explain It Like I’m Five

When one player raises and another player calls that raise, you can bluff by reraising. The first player will then get squeezed out of the pot because he’s worried about the player behind him, who is also likely to fold because he hasn’t shown much strength.

Give Me An Example

Let’s say you are playing in a local cash game with blinds of $2-$5 and have a stack of $600. A player in middle position, who has been known to be particularly loose and aggressive with his chips, raises to $20. The player in the cutoff, who is weak and passive, calls the raise.

You look down at 6Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit on the button. You could call and see a flop, or just simply fold, but instead, you want to try out the squeeze play. You reraise to $70.

The initial raiser has now been effectively squeezed. He is out of position and not only has to worry about you, but he also has to worry about the cutoff behind him. He folds and the action is back on the cutoff. He doesn’t have much of a hand, as evidenced by his decision to just call the $20 earlier, so he folds as well. You collect the $47 profit from the pot and you didn’t even have to see a flop.

The key is to attempt the squeeze play against an initial raiser who is loose and likely to have a weak hand. In the above example, if one or both players were to call your three-bet, you’d at least have the advantage of acting last and possibly even seeing a turn card for free.

You also want to make sure that you are attempting the squeeze play against the right opponents. If the initial raiser is a very tight or stubborn player, then it’s probably a bad idea to squeeze. Make sure that neither of your opponents are particularly short-stacked, because they may decide to go with their hand because of the perceived dead money in the pot. You also have to be cautious of attempting this move too often, because savvy players will start to just call raises with huge hands hoping to induce a squeeze attempt on your part.

The smaller your three-bet size is, the better, because you will be risking fewer chips to win the pot. However, if you make your three-bet size too small, you will find that players will call just to see a flop at a discounted rate. ♠