What is a squeeze play?
A squeeze play is a 3-bet made by a player (usually pre-flop) after there has been an opening raise and at least one cold caller.
Why should we use the squeeze play?
The squeeze play is something that we should have in our arsenal when either we think both the open raiser and cold caller have weak enough ranges that we can make them both fold pre-flop, or when we have a strong hand pre-flop that we can raise for clean value but would prefer not to play in a multi-way pot.
If we only ever utilized the squeeze play when we have a strong value hand, we are in danger of our range being too face up, so we need to mix in some bluffs too so we are more difficult to play against.
When is the best time to make a squeeze play as a bluff?
We should use the squeeze play as a bluff when the stronger player in the hand so far is the raiser and the weaker player in the hand is the cold caller.
This is because if the weaker player is the raiser and he decides to call our squeeze, the stronger player has more incentive to come along for the ride, and then our chances of winning the pot have reduced significantly.
When the stronger player has to react to our squeeze before knowing how the weaker player in the hand has reacted to it, he is handcuffed to play his hand in a more straightforward manner because he can’t just 4-bet without having a very strong holding, so he is more likely to just fold the weaker parts of his range leaving us heads up with a weak player unless the weaker player folds too.
When should we squeeze for value?
This part is much easier for us. We should squeeze for value in much the same way we 3-bet for value or just bet for value in general, i.e., when we are confident we have the best hand and we are also confident that we can be called by worse hands.
It matters much less here in which order the action in front of us took place. Since we’re looking to be called, it doesn’t matter whether the open raiser is a stronger or weaker player because we don’t mind as much of one or even both players call.
What should our range be for squeezing?
This is a difficult question to answer because every situation is different, but I’ll share how I tend to build my ranges in two typical squeeze situations.
My personal preference is to squeeze with a polarized range when we have pre-flop position, so maybe something like AA/KK/AKs for value and A2 suited to A9 suited and Kx suited as a bluff.
When we’re squeezing from the blinds, my personal preference is to have a depolarized range, which would look something like 88+, AJo+, KQo+.
A Final Cautionary Note
Squeezing isn’t something that we should use too often. Like many things in life, it is good in moderation but can be harmful if done to excess.
Pick your spots wisely and it will be a powerful weapon for you. If we start popping off squeezing every time an opportunity presents itself, we run the risk of being terribly unbalanced and incredibly exploitable.
Have fun playing around with it. If it’s something you don’t do a lot of, it might open up some exciting new spots for you to learn from.