squeeze play

Texas Holdem Betting Strategies » Squeeze Play

The squeeze play is a method that you can introduce into your Texas Holdem betting strategies bag of tricks, but only if you are someone with at least half a year's experience playing in MTTs and/or Sit-n-Gos with success. The squeeze play, or "the squeeze", was introduced to the world by Dan Harrington in the 2004 World Series of Poker and in his book 'Harrington on Hold'em'.

The squeeze play is a very subtle tournament play technique, and it has to be used only with great care and strong judgment. It is one of the Texas Holdem betting strategies that can pay you the greatest rewards but, as with all things financial, the higher the potential short term gain the riskier the move. As Dan Harrington demonstrated against Josh Arieh and Greg Raymer, if you can correctly calculate that your opponents have weak hands (just like you) but are willing to stay in and bluff by making bold raises, you can put "the squeeze" on them and rake in the chips. But you have to REALLY know what you are doing.


You first have to have an understanding of the importance of poker position in Texas Holdem betting strategies, which I've written about elsewhere. This means you have to pay careful attention to the betting patterns of the one seated in the big blind and the small blind, and the button or dealer. You also need to fully understand your own position and pay attention to whoever acts behind you. If you begin to suspect that these people have weak hands, and especially if you also suspect that they think the dealer's hand is strong (when you aren't so sure of that), and your own hand you know to be rubbish, then you may have a big squeeze play opportunity. NOTE: it's very important that you have a good psychological evaluation of your opponents. You have to be very confident that they are the sort who like to stay in and take big risks. Thus the squeeze play is almost always more suited to the later rounds of a tournie.

You will also need to have a thorough knowledge of calculating poker pot odds, such as by using the 4/2 rule. I've also written of that elsewhere. You see why you need to be an experienced player?

But first things first: you have to have already established your image for the tournie as a strong one. The other players need to see you as calm, calculating, and perhaps on a good luck streak. In short, they have to fear you, but they also have to see you as somebody who is not given to taking outlandish risks--so, you need to have won most of your winning hands with strong hands like flushes. The other players must believe you are smart and conservative. If you are sure this is their current image of you, then play on and consider putting the squeeze on them.


You're going to bet all or most of your chips for a successful squeeze play. So, yeah, you REALLY must be highly confident that those around you are doing what you're doing: bluffing with garbage. But you're going to do it one step better. Also, keep in mind that your strategic calculations with this don't depend on your hole cards. This is entirely predicated on you strongly suspecting a table full of weak hands. NOTE: never do the squeeze against a consistently calling position that you don't believe will fold when you make your move. You'll lose. Period.

One signal that you may want to go for the squeeze is someone seeing too many flops or you notice they've been raising pre-flop consistently, which is often a flashing neon sign for a bluff. Another could be when a player you find to be loose and aggressive opens with a pre-flop raise, and then another player calls it. Now it's your turn.

Imagine it like this:

Player A: Raises

Player B: Calls

Player C: Re-raises All-in (that's you)

Players A & B: Fold

Player C: Wins

(For this scenario assume any other players folded just before or after A raised.)

As you can see, the squeeze play works best when there are only a very few opponents left to play against. In the above scenario, you squeezed A and B because you suspected that A was bluffing and B was calling the bluff of A (but with a weak hand, otherwise he would have raised again).

Again, the squeeze play made famous by Texas Holdem master Dan Harrington is a method that you can introduce into your Texas Holdem betting strategies bag of tricks, but only if you are someone with a proven track record of success and considerable experience. May the flop be with you!

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