The what, when and why of the squeeze play in poker
You know you’re not always going to win every game, but there’s a few tricks every player should have up their sleeve to increase their chances. You don’t always get a visual on your opponents when you play online poker, so mastering the squeeze play strategy makes up for not being able to spot poker faces. But what’s really cool is that you don’t need a stellar hand. In fact, if you have been dealt a bad hand, then pulling off this move might be your only serious shot at the big time.
What is squeeze play in poker?
Whenever there’s a poker scene in a film, you can bet it features a squeeze. What we see is a pile of cash on the table and a bunch of serious-looking guys. Some fidgeting desperado raises before the flop, another smirks and raises too, then a third does the same and goes all out, throwing a huge bundle of cash into the pot. The first two throw down their cards in dramatic style, and then the third turns over a mediocre hand with a winning smile – it was a squeeze, a bluff, but it won the game.
In reality, there’s more going on than what we see on TV, but it illustrates what a powerful move it is. What most of us probably think is: OMG, that was lucky, could I get away with it and win a load of cash too? Well, yes, you can. All you need to know is how the others play, their habits, not necessarily what their faces say.
Why risk it? Squeeze play poker explained
To do it right, you need to look at the other players’ table image and how they’ve performed (and who usually folds in a 3-bet). For a squeeze to work, there needs to be a pattern: you need a predictable opening raiser with a loose/aggressive style, then you need someone else who’s spotted their habit and knows it’s (hopefully) another bluff. That’s where you come in, you’ve seen the pattern and can predict what’s about to happen. It’s time to drop a mighty 3-bet and squeeze them off the pot.
Why it works
Basically, this technique works because neither the opening raiser or the player calling next have great hands. The second player knows he can beat the first, but their hand won’t be worth going all out for if they suspect yours is strong, which it must be because you wouldn’t raise the stakes so much otherwise, would you?
What’s at stake?
Usually, these are big money games, but in any case you’ll need to throw in at least 4-5 times the amount of the pot. So if the pot stands at £100, you might raise it to £500. It’s a bold statement that says I’m confident I can beat you. When the stakes are thousands high, you can see why it’s such an iconic move. But you need to know when and where to deploy a squeeze.
When to squeeze play in poker games, and when not to
A squeeze only really works well at tournament and serious no-limit cash games. With limit games, there’s not usually a big pot to play with, so you can’t raise the stakes enough. Besides, few people will be pressured into a fold if there’s nothing much to lose. Otherwise, all you need is two players to start the bluff.
Look who’s behind you
Ideally, you need as few players behind you as possible. If your hand isn’t great and you’re sure the two in front’s are pretty bad, chances are whoever’s after you could have a fairly good one. If there’s several players left, you might want to re-think your strategy.
Less is more: keep it tight
Don’t forget about being mindful about your own actions. If you’ve consistently played a tight game, aren’t loose/aggressive, then the other players won’t be expecting you to pull a squeeze. On the contrary, when you do, they’ll think you mean business and they’ll probably fold.
How to squeeze play on poker sites
The main difference between live and online poker is that it’s unlikely you’ll see another player’s body language online. But because a squeeze relies more on patterns of behaviour, you can pull one just as effectively, it might even work out better for you.
Finally, don’t get squeezed. If you find yourself in a squeeze and you really don’t have a good hand, then fold – you can’t win ’em all.