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Poker strategy essays

The Squeeze Play In No Limit Texas Holdem

By Tarum Nahas

Before delving into the complications of the squeeze play, it would help to know what exactly it is.

A squeeze play in poker is a bet that holds the purpose of extracting more chips from an opponent who is not likely to win the pot. It is a very common technique used in the world of hi/lo games, when two players basically argue with their bets, believing they have a lock on the high or low draw. In No Limit Texas Hold'em however, the stakes are usually much higher, and the squeeze play isn't something that can just be used based on premonition alone.

Based on his extremely tight style, Dan Harrington is perhaps the master of the squeeze play; itís a vital part of his Texas Holdem strategy. He only uses the play when he believes he has an excellent read on an opponent. In explaining the squeeze play from his perspective, the read on an opponent is key.

There's only one way to offer an educated guess at what your opponent has, and that is by learning their game when you sit with them and when you have any other opportunity to observe them. Every player will offer you insight into their decision making process during every hand, based on what they do with what they're holding. If evidence leads to the conclusion that an opponent has a habit of raising and eventually showing a weak hand, you are building a case to use the squeeze. If another opponent has a tendency to raise on such a consistent basis that they simply can't be playing a solid game, they are flying another red flag. It is all about the read, and the proper timing. A few hands into a game is way too soon to get a good feel for what an opponent will offer and it's too soon to rely on plays such as the squeeze. Good solid play will allow you a deeper look into your opponent's game so you can make your move when there is not a doubt left in your mind as to what they are holding in their pocket.

The reason a squeeze works so well for players like Harrington is because of their extremely tight and aggressive style. Playing when you've got the goods and getting out early when you don't will also work to the advantage of using a squeeze play.

It would seem the squeeze play is just another way to bluff. In a way this is true, but ultimately, you can squeeze with a solid pocket, so it wouldn't be disastrous if an opponent were to move all-in and you were to call. But, as is more likely, the stakes will be higher when you decide to use the squeeze while holding little to nothing. The play comes simply by raising a bet handsomely right out of the gate. At the 2004 WSOP final table, Harrington did exactly this after getting a good read on on two of his opponents. He would make a handsome re-raise pre-flop, based on the evidence that had been previously presented. Unwilling to challenge a the tight player, his squeeze play took the pot after the other two competitors had donated to it generously.

Again, squeezing those extra chips out of an aggressive player is not difficult to do, but it is difficult to know when to do it when you play Texas Holdem. When you can predict how they'll play by their pre-flop action, you're on the right track, and eventually it can be a useful tool in scooping a nice pot from an aggressive player.



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