Chapter 8: Squeeze Bets
What is a squeeze bet?
A squeeze bet occurs when one player raises, then one or more players call that raise, and then another player 3-bets. It is called a squeeze because the original preflop caller is getting “squeezed” out of the pot.
What does a squeeze bet achieve?
While the original raiser can have a strong range of hands, the preflop caller decided not to 3-bet and therefore has a “capped range” (this simply means that the preflop caller does not have the strongest hands, such as QQ+ and AKs, as these would have been 3-betted).
It is therefore very difficult for the preflop caller to continue. Players in this scenario will be forced to fold a large portion of their range.
When should you make a squeeze bet?
- As a bluff in order to take down the pot preflop, when your opponents are over-folding to the squeeze play. This can be done in situations where your opponents’ ranges are weak, such as when one of them opens from the dealer button and the small blind flat calls. You can use the poker statistics “folded to squeeze bet when raiser” and “folded to squeeze bet when caller” to get a better picture of your fold equity.
- To isolate a weak player. Good players try to play more pots against weaker players, and as you watch your opponents’ play style and use VPIP and PFR to identify player types, you may notice that the strong players at your table are flat calling raises from fish at a higher frequency than they would with a strong player. This means that their range is weaker than usual. When you make a squeeze bet, you can often get the stronger player to fold, and then you can play a pot heads up against the fish.
- To build a pot for value. When you have a strong hand such as a good pocket pair or strong broadway cards like AK or AQ, you want to build a bigger pot.
Think about the kinds of hands that you want to be squeezing and which you prefer to just flat call and go to the flop multiway. A hand like AJ offsuit plays much better against a single opponent, whereas a hand like 44 or 89 suited plays very well against multiple opponents and is a better candidate to flat call.
How do you respond to a squeeze bet as the original raiser?
As the original preflop raiser, you have the advantage of having an uncapped range. To get a picture of what our opponent is doing, we need to look at the poker statistic “Squeeze bet.” The higher this percentage, the more likely it is that our opponent is making a squeeze bet as a bluff. If our opponent has a “Squeeze bet” percentage of 10% or more, it is very likely that they are using a wider range of hands. We can combat this strategy by folding less, and 4-betting a range of hands as bluffs. If our opponent has a “Squeeze bet” percentage of 5% or less, it is much more likely that they are making a squeeze play primarily for value. We can combat this strategy by folding more, and 4-betting mainly for value.
For more information, please read Chapter 4: 3-betting and 4-betting.
How do you respond to a squeeze bet as the caller being squeezed?
Generally, it is stronger opponents that have squeeze plays in their arsenal. Against these opponents, you face a difficult situation. You need to look at the reason that you were flat-calling the original raise in the first place.
Was it because your hand is strong enough to call against the original preflop raisers opening range? If this is the case, you are probably not strong enough to continue against a squeezing range, and you must fold.
Was it because you felt you could outplay your opponent post-flop? In this case, you no longer have the incentive to continue if the preflop raiser folds against the squeeze play. If the preflop raiser calls, you need to look at how your hand is faring against the range of the squeezer.
It is very difficult to 4-bet once you have capped your range by flat-calling the original raiser. This means you’ll often have to fold against the squeeze bet.
Planning the hand - avoiding the squeeze bet
The simplest way to combat squeeze plays is to identify players with position on you preflop that are active squeeze betters. If you have one or more of these players to your left, hands that were profitable preflop flat calls against a single raise can be folded.