Poker strategy to try at home: Squeeze play

Put your opponents in tough spots with this aggressive move

If one play is synonymous with the poker boom and the proliferation of poker books that followed, it’s the squeeze play, as coined by Dan Harrington in his seminal Harrington on Hold’em Volume 1. It works like this. Player A (preferably loose or active) raises and is flat-called by Player B (preferably TAG). Now you, playing in late position or the blinds, put in a sizeable reraise. The original raiser is now often ‘squeezed’ out of the hand, as not only has the three-bettor shown strength to raise a bet and a call, but a tight opponent (Player B) has called and may be trapping with a big hand. As such, Player A is forced to muck his hand a very high percentage of the time. Player B is also in a bind, as he often has a hand that is good but not great (after all, he didn’t raise) and can’t stand a reraise, especially if out of position. While the squeeze play was originally most commonly used as a bluff, its popularity meant it quickly became overused and predictable. These days it is as likely to be a genuine monster as often as a bluff.

The set-up

  • Preflop action
  • A raise and a call in front of you
  • The original raiser is loose, but is capable of finding the fold button
  • Flat-caller is tight and straightforward
  • Your image is intact
  • You have position
  • You hold any two reasonable cards

In action

  • Observe which players are loose and if they’ve folded or shown down non-premium hands after opening in early position
  • Look for tight players who call too much preflop
  • Wait for a spot where you’re in late position with no short stacks to act behind you, and there’s a raise and a call before you
  • Make your three-bet either big enough that you’re all-in or small enough that you’re not committed to calling a four-bet from either opponent

The squeeze play in action

It’s only fair to leave it to the squeez master to demonstrate the effectiveness of this move – Dan Harrington at the 2004 WSOP

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