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Real Poker: Squeezing The Squeezer: But No Juice

by Roy Cooke |  Published: Aug 28, 2019

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You know the type; he just loves to push people around. He’s always betting and raising, and his wagers are often oversized. He’s intentionally forcing you out of your comfort zone; forcing you to make stands with hands you’re uncomfortable wagering such hefty amounts on.

Bullies who also read people and hands well can be very tricky opponents to play against. That said, with the right strategies, they can also be exploited, and they can often be trapped into highly – negative expected value (EV) situations.

Playing $2-$5 at Caesars Palace, I’d just lost the previous pot and was only $440 deep. My friend Dave, a very tough player, opened for $15 UTG+1. I peered down to the ASpade Suit QClub Suit. In that specific spot, my preflop options of calling, raising or folding were close. When my options are close EV wise, I always look for any subtle tendencies of my opponents that might sway my best decision to one option or another.

In the big blind (BB) was Mr. Bully, a highly aggressive person who had been shoving everyone around ever since he sat down. And he was sitting in the perfect “squeeze” position. When a player has a high propensity to squeeze, being in the BB with an opening raiser followed by callers is the perfect situation to actualize the play. I knew he knew that! That being the case, I knew he would make a squeeze play with a very wide range of hands if it wasn’t three-bet in front of him. I tossed in $15, thinking I might trap Mr. Bully for a big raise.

My intuition proved correct, though it didn’t have to be right. Three players limped behind me and Mr. Bully made it $120 from the BB. Dave folded, and I shoved, raising another $305 on top. A-Q offsuit is not usually a hand I like to stack off 80+ BBs with, but I knew my A-Q was way ahead of most of his squeeze play raising range. The three callers behind me folded, Mr. Bully tanked for a long while, and then called. His tanking indicated to me that my A-Q was in good shape.

The poker gods were grumps, as they often are. The dealer flopped the KSpade Suit JSpade Suit 6Club Suit, turned a spade, giving me nut flush draw, and then bricked the river. I flipped over my A-Q high and Mr. Bully showed the ADiamond Suit JClub Suit having hit the jack on the flop. I agonizingly watched as the dealer pushed my chips to Mr. Bully.

Well, I lost my stack! Not the first time, nor will it be the last. But I got my money in good at the decision point. And if you get your money in optimally, you’ve actualized your best, and that’s all you can ever ask of yourself!

The hand speaks to exploitatively adjusting to an opponent’s non-standard strategy. Game theory optimal theories dictate that you play your hands in a non-exploitable manner. However, no-limit offers many opportunities to take hands and play them in a higher +EV non-standard manner by adjusting to your opponents’ tendencies. Sometimes, like in this case, it’s adjusting to their obvious mindset and style. But sometimes it can be much more subtle and based on your read of an opponent’s thinking or an emotional change.

This particular situation was well suited to my hand and stack depth. Dave had 5-5, and more chips than I. Had he made the play, he would have assumed higher risk than I as his fives wouldn’t have played as well against Mr. Bully’s squeezing range as my A-Q would, and the cost of the play would have been greater for him, giving him lower odds.

And while these types of situations are often difficult to unearth, and required intense focus and deep thought, the nature of no-limit and the large bet sizes will often provide substantial edge when you do detect these types of exploitable weaknesses.

Locating and effectively taking advantage of those situations will add a large amount of EV to your year. And that’s going to translate into more money in your pocket. And money in your pocket is going to put a big smile on your face. ♠

Roy CookeRoy Cooke played poker professionally for 16 years prior to becoming a successful Las Vegas Real Estate Broker/Salesman. Should you wish any information about Real Estate matters -including purchase, sale or mortgage, his office number is 702-376-1515 or Roy’s e-mail is RoyCooke123@gmail.com. His website is www.RoyCooke.com.