MTT Strategy – What is Squeeze Play?

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What is Squeeze Play? 

Squeeze play is a situational tactic that is becoming more popular move in No Limit Holdem and MTT strategy. It’s effectively a bluff that allows you to pick up a lot of chips in the right tournament situations. 

Definition of Sqeeze Play: Squeeze play is when there is already a raiser and caller in a pot. You then re-raise from any position at the table with any given range of hands.  The standard outcome is that players to fold – because of an advanced poker strategy principle called “gap concept” which makes your hand look extremely strong.  Both the opponents in the squeeze play are forced to fold or “squeezed” out of the pot – hence the name.

Why is Squeeze Play So Effective in MTT Strategy?

The reason it’s so effective in MTT strategy is twofold.  Firstly it shows great strength re-raising a pot that has already been raised and called by at least one player. This type of strength in a tournament traditionally represents a premium hand such as JJ or better, and it’s unlikely to ever get called.

mtt strategySecondly, the squeeze play contains so much value because it puts the other two (or more) players involved in the pot in very difficult/uncertain positions – and they are more likely to fold. 

If you consider the first player to raise – he now faces a re-raise, and is also uncertain of what the caller behind him will do.  Effectively he knows he’ll need a premium hand like QQ to be able to call the re-raise (gap concept).  The caller on the other hand is similarly very unlikely to call because if he actually had a strong enough hand to call the re-raise, he would presumably have re-raised the original raise anyway rather than flat calling.  This indicates a marginal hand such as QK suited or low-mid pockets at best.  Therefore both opponents in the squeeze play are “squeezed” out of the pot – hence the name.

Example of Squeeze Play in WSOP

Here is an example of successful squeeze play from the final table of the WSOP Main Event 2004.

Josh Arieh opened the pot for a raise with K9 offsuit, and was called by Greg Ray Raymer holding A2 of clubs.  Dan Harrington, who had been playing conservatively up to that point, re-raised the pot with 62 offsuit.  The hand was given so much credit that David Williams folded AQ in BB position, and all the other players folded to give Dan Harrington the pot.

Problems of Squeeze Play in MTT Strategy

The popularity of squeeze play has become its downfall.  The proliferation of its use at the tables – specifically in MTT strategy – has made it a less effective weapon for stealing chips.  While this doesn’t render squeeze play useless, it still attenuates the effectiveness and reliability of using it at the tables.

Stack Size Considerations

As you should have discovered, the ability to carry out an effective squeeze play without risk is dependant on your stack size and that of your opponents’.

If you have a small to medium stack size, successfully using the squeeze play and moving all-in after a raise and call will give you a greater chance of staying in the tournament.  For example, imagine you have 10,000 chips and the blind have raised to 200/400 with 50 ante.  By the time one player raises to 1500 and gets called, the pot is now worth over 4000 chips. If you go all-in with your 10,000 and successfully use this MTT strategy, you’ll make a return of around 40% of your chips.  Neither play is likely to call; a fairly simple way to make money.

Another factor to take into account when pulling off a squeeze play is that you’re getting the right fold equity.  If your stack is only 10 BBs, then pulling off a squeeze play will be pretty risky because you’re giving both players in the pot strong pot value, which means they’re likely to call with a larger range of hands.

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