Squeeze Play

Squeeze Play 0001

Poker is a great game because you play it against other players, and not against the house. Therefore, you don't have to come up with a general strategy like with blackjack or roulette, but you need to adjust to the players sitting at your table. You're playing against people, and these people like to lie every now and then. It is thanks to a bluff that you can pick up a pot that wasn't actually meant for you if it would have come to a showdown. That is also the reason why people playing against each other will not break even in the long run.

One of my favourite bluffs is the squeeze play. This is a move where you make a big re-raise after 2 people have already entered the pot, of which the first person raised and the second person called. The initial raiser is now trapped between you and the second player. This is the "squeeze". He might be getting the pot odds to call your re-raise, but seeing as he still has someone sitting behind him who called his raise, and has no idea what this player is going to do, it will be hard for him to make this call, and he should really fold his hand. The second player thought that his hand was good enough to call the first raise in position, but now he's up against your re-raise out of position. This player is likely to fold as well, and you pick up the pot.

It's a wonderful feeling if your squeeze play succeeds, and you can win a lot of chips with it if the blinds are high enough. However, there are a couple of things that need to be considered in order to let the play be successful.

1. First of all you need reason to believe that the initial raiser doesn't have a hand good enough to call your re-raise with. A sort of tell would obviously be very helpful, but in general you just need to pay attention, and see which of the players are the aggressors and who regularly raises with marginal hands.

2. The second player has to call the raise, and not re-raise himself. If he does re-raise he is sure to have a very strong hand which you probably won't get him to fold. If he just calls the initial raise, he could have a whole variety of drawing hands, which he is willing to play against a raise, but not against a second raiser.

3. You need to have a very solid table image, preferably as a very tight player. So don't try this play after you've just bee caught out on a bluff. If you've seen a couple of showdowns in the past hour, you need to make sure you let your opponents see some nice hands.

4. Try not to make this move a second time in the same session (even if you actually had a hand the first time round). It is a big play, and it will certainly not go unnoticed.

A successfully executed squeeze play can reward you with a lot of chips during crucial stages of a tournament and make the difference you need for a big win.

Here is an example of a squeeze play from the WSOP 2004:

It's the final table with 7 players left:

Small Blind Glen Hughes $2,375,000

Big Blind David Williams $3,250,000 {a-Hearts}{q-Clubs}

1 Josh Arieh $3,890,000 {k-Hearts}{9-Spades}

2 Al Krux $2,175,000

3 Greg Raymer $7,920,000 {a-Clubs}{3-Clubs}

4 Matt Dean $3,435,000

5 Dan Harrington $2,320,000 {6-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}

The blinds were 40,000 and 80,000 with 10K antes, so the pot was already 190K to begin with.

Josh Arieh opened with a raise of 225,000, a little less than 3 times the big blind. He was definitely one of the more active players at the table.

Al Krux folded his hand.

Greg Raymer hadn't gotten a hand in quite some time and decided to get in on the action for once and called with A2 suited.

Matt Dean folded his hand

Dan Harrington could have just mucked his {6-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}, but the call from Greg Raymer created the perfect scenario for a squeeze play. The table was relatively loose, and players were often tempted to call when getting the right pot odds, so a standard raise of 500K would not be enough in this situation. As a result, Harrington raised to 1,200,000.

Glen Hughes folded his hand

David Williams got dealt the best hand (AQ), but unfortunately for him he couldn't play his hand seeing as he was facing a raise, call and a large re-raise, so he folded his hand.

Josh Arieh didn't feel like playing his K-9 with two players behind him, so he folded his hand.

Greg Raymer had to assume now that he was up against an Ace with a better kicker than his, or against a middle or high pair. In both cases, it was too much for him to call, and he also folded his hand.

What do you think?

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