squeezing in poker the squeeze play

The Ultimate Guide to Squeezing in No Limit Hold’em

The “squeeze” play — 3-betting preflop versus a raise and one or more callers — was once a staple of TV poker.

Players used to be much more likely to just call raises before the flop, which presented many squeezing opportunities for aggressive players.

tom dwan squeeze play

Squeezing is a less frequent part of the game nowadays, especially online, but it is nonetheless important to understand if you want to squeeze (pun intended) the maximum amount of money from your opponents’ stacks.

Here’s what this article covers:

  • What is Squeezing?
  • What Does a Squeeze Achieve?
  • Which Hands Should You Squeeze?
  • How to Size Your Squeezes
  • Example Squeezing Ranges from Upswing Courses
  • Reacting to 4-Bets After Squeezing

Let’s begin!

This article has been updated (originally published July 8th, 2016)

What is Squeezing?

Squeezing means to re-raise preflop after there has been a raise and one or more callers.

For example, suppose you’re playing a $2/$5 cash game. The player UTG raises to $15 and the player on the button calls. If you were to 3-bet from the small blind, that would be a squeeze.

What Does A Squeeze Achieve?

Squeezing allows you to take advantage of the great pot odds that you are getting when facing a raise and one or more calls.

Consider the four possible outcomes of a squeeze play, and what each one means for the squeezer:

  1. All players fold. The squeezer wins a fairly sizable pot without seeing a flop.
  2. One player calls. The squeezer has a range advantage going into the flop.
  3. Multiple players call. The squeezer still has a range advantage, but it shrinks with each additional caller.
  4. Someone 4-bets. The squeezer now must make a (potentially tough) decision with a big pot on the line.

Three of these outcomes are good/great for the squeezer, which demonstrates the power of this play (and aggression in general).

Note: Want to know exactly which hands you should play in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!

The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of five sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab.

 

Which Hands Should You Squeeze?

The hands with which you should squeeze depend most on the initial raiser’s range. The wider the range, the wider you should be squeezing.

With a lesser degree of impact, the range of the cold-caller(s) should impact your squeezing range as well. The wider the cold-calling range(s), the wider you can squeeze.

That said, the driving factor is still the initial raiser’s range. If the initial raiser is an extremely tight player raising from UTG, for example, you should respond with a very tight squeezing range, regardless of how loose the cold-calling range(s) might be.

With all of this in mind, let’s talk about specific hands with which to squeeze.

When it comes to squeezing for value, you should always include the usual suspects: AA, KK, QQ, and AK. Versus looser positions/players, hands like JJ, TT, and AQ become clear squeezes for value as well.

Now, let’s talk about squeezing as a “bluff.” Since preflop solvers hit the market a few years ago, the poker world has learned that the old-school way of building a polarized squeezing range may not be the best approach.

When it comes to “bluff” squeezing, solvers prefers hands that have two valuable components:

  1. A lot of equity when called.
  2. Great blockers that make it less likely the opponents will continue.

Note: Because hands with these properties aren’t pure bluffs, you may find it helpful to think of them as preflop semi-bluffs or simply as the bottom of your squeezing range.

We’re talking about hands like AQo, ATs, KQs, QJs, and JTs, as well as the medium-high pocket pairs like 88-JJ. Again, these hands aren’t really “bluffs” as much as they are the bottom of a well-built squeezing range.

Solvers like semi-bluffing with hands like these at varying frequencies depending on the factors discussed above.

How to Size Your Squeezes

The size of your squeeze should be slightly bigger if you will be out of position postflop and slightly smaller if you will be in position postflop.

If you will be in position, squeeze to the size of the pot minus 1 big blind. This will usually be around 4 to 4.5 times the initial raise size assuming exactly one caller, 5 to 5.5 times the initial raise size assuming exactly two callers, and so on.

If you will be out of position, squeeze to the size of the pot plus 1 big blind. This will usually be around 5 times the initial raise size assuming exactly one caller, 6 times the initial raise size assuming exactly two callers, and so on.

Example Squeezing Ranges from Upswing Courses

Before wrapping up, I wanted to give you a concrete idea of what good squeezing ranges look like. To do this, I will share four squeezing ranges from Upswing Poker’s premium courses.

1. Squeezing Range Out of Position in Cash Games

This range is for when the hijack raises, the button calls, and you are in the small blind.

sb squeeze range vs hj and btn

The SB Squeeze Range vs Hijack and Button from Kanu7’s Advanced Cash Game Strategy course.

2. Squeezing Range In Position in Cash Games

This range is for when the hijack raises, the cutoff calls, and you are on the button.

btn squeeze range vs hj and co

Button Squeeze Range vs Hijack and Cutoff from Fried Meulders’ Advanced Solver Ranges in the Upswing Lab

3. Squeezing Range Out of Position in Tournaments

This range is for when the hijack raises, the button calls, and you are in the small blind (with the effective stacks at 50 big blinds).

sb squeeze range vs hj and btn mtt

SB Squeeze Range vs Hijack and Button from Nick Petrangelo’s Winning Poker Tournaments course.

4. Squeezing Range In Position in Tournaments

This range is for when the hijack raises, the cutoff calls, and you are on the button.

btn squeeze range vs hj and co mtt

Button Squeeze Range vs Hijack and Cutoff from Nick Petrangelo’s Winning Poker Tournaments course.

Reacting to 4-Bets After Squeezing

Against a 4-bet you will proceed to go all-in with your value hands (QQ+, AK) barring some specific read on your opponent’s strategy that sways you in a different direction.

Your suited semi-bluffs will be called at some frequency depending on the size of the 4-bet, and all of the pocket pairs should usually be called regardless.

It’s tough to give much more general advice for facing 4-bets since it’s so dependent on the player and size. Just remember to consider your pot odds, the 4-bettor’s tendencies, the stack-to-pot ratio, and any other relevant factors. Then, try to make the best decision possible.

Wrapping Up

Squeezing is just feels powerful, which makes it super fun to do at the tables. It’s especially important to have in your arsenal when playing live since the players will have even weaker ranges. Squeezing practically prints money against them.

That’s all for this article! I hope you learned something new and that you start playing this spot better next time! If you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below.

Want to test your bluffing skills next? Take our bluffing/semi-bluffing quiz now!

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

Note: Ready to join 5,000+ players currently upgrading their No Limit Hold’em skills? Crush your competition with the expert strategies you will learn inside the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!

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About the Author

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games.

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