We have discussed the topic of 3-betting in an earlier article, but today we want to focus on a very specific type of 3-bet, known as a squeeze play.
A squeeze play is a 3-bet when the pot has been opened by one player and at least one other player has made a call.
What Does A Squeeze Achieve?
The idea of a squeeze play is meant to take advantage of the great pot odds you are getting when facing a raise and 1 or more call.
A squeeze play can have a wide variety of results that mean different things for the 3bettor:
- All players fold – we win a fairly sizable pot now
- One player calls – we have a range advantage going into the flop, granted out of position
- Multiple players call – our range advantage shrinks
Squeezing In vs Out Of Position
When we are squeezing in a 6-max game, we will usually be on the button or in the blinds. Typically you want to avoid squeezing a lot against the tighter, early positions like UTG and UTG+1.
When we squeeze from the blinds we will always be playing out of position against at least one player. When on the button we will be in position vs all players for the rest of the hand.
Squeezing is profitable both in and out of position, but in position is a more attractive situation for the 3bettor. The range of hands we will want to squeeze with will change depending on the position of the opener, the tendencies of the opener and our position.
Squeezing In Position
When we have position on other players, we want to overcall with quite a few hands. Hands such as:
- Strong suited connectors like T9s, 98s
- Small pocket pairs
- Strong broadway hands like QJs
These hands play well multiway and can flop monster draws or hit bit hands like sets and straights. Playing them in position gives us the possibility to control the size of the pot or attack weakness when we see it.
When it comes to squeezing in position, start with the easy part: value. Hands like:
- Sometimes “thinner” value like KQs or AJs
We squeeze these hands to extract value from worse while reducing the chance of seeing the flop multi-way. Another thing we will achieve by squeezing monsters is to reduce the stack to pot ratio, which benefits hands that make strong one pairs.
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This leaves us with the lighter hands that are good candidates to squeeze in position. Hands like:
- Big offsuit broadways like AJo, KQo (be careful not to overdo these)
- Small suited Ax, especially A2-A5
- Suited gap connectors like T8s, J9s
AJo and KQo are also good candidates to squeeze in position as they don’t really have too much potential in multi-way pots but can be great heads up.
The suited versions of the same hand should be both squeezed and overcalled with some frequency. The same goes for baby suited aces which have solid playability but can also cause trouble in multi-way pots. Play a mixed strategy of overcalls and squeezes with these hands.
Squeezing Out Of Position
Squeezing out of position is more challenging. Hands such as AJo and KQo become quite a bit tougher to play OOP making them better hands to flat or even outright fold from the SB against early position raisers.
A trend among good 6max players is to squeeze a number of speculative hands such as 86s, J8s and similar gap connectors out of position.
Hands like these are good choices to squeeze because of their good playability. Hands like baby suited aces are best played by overcalling or folding as they will not have good playability when your 3bet gets called.
How To Profit From Squeezing
Understanding which opponents have a tendency to fold to 3bets and which play back is key to squeezing effectively.
We will want to squeeze with an extended value range against a player who hates folding, especially out of position. Take the value range we crafted earlier and add even more value hands. Squeezing hands like QJs, ATs or 88 against a loose player will extract some razor thin value preflop.
Conversly, flatting some of our borderline strong hands like AQs and TT makes sense against weaker players who fold to more 3bets. Against tight players like this, 3bet less value, add in some more bluffs and just play looser in general.
The best way to make sure you are making profitable squeezes is to understand who it is you are squeezing against and adjust your ranges accordingly.
In short, you will make a huge profit by squeezing for value against a calling station. Other players may simply go ahead and give you money by folding every time you squeeze your 86s from the blinds.
Sizing Up Your 3-Bet Squeeze
When it comes to bet sizing, there are a few basic guidelines to use when squeezing. In general, if you are squeezing against a raise and one call, you will want to squeeze to about 4 times the original bet. Against a raiser and two callers you will want to squeeze closer to 5 times. When out of position add one more bet.
These sizing shortcuts are not carved in stone. You will certainly want to change your sizing based on your opponents tendencies and range. For instance, if you have AA against an absolute calling station, you can size even larger.
If squeezing a player who is likely to fold, why not try with a smaller squeeze and see if that works.
Like all things in poker, you will want to adapt to your table and opponents and really pay attention to stats and other players’ actions before sizing up your squeezes.
The squeeze play is one of the most powerful plays in No Limit Hold’em and one every poker player, whether a tournament or cash game specialist, should study and perfect in order to maximize profits.
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