Fighting Back Against Preflop Squeezers

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Today’s question comes from Tadeas who wants me to review this hand played with JJ at 25NL. In this hand there is a raise under the gun, there’s a call, there’s a squeeze, and it’s back to us.

Tadeas prefaces the hand by saying, “I have Jacks under the gun, I make a standard raise, there’s a call and a squeeze from a player I only have 20 hands on and he’s played quite tight so far, but the reality can differ greatly.” First and foremost, Tadeas, it’s excellent that you recognize that 20 hands is not a great sample size and there’s going to be a lot of variance, especially in things like play style. Tadeas goes on to say, “I consider him to be rather fishy because of his stack but the sizing of his squeeze seems okay. I really only think of calling here as I think folding is too nitty, but stack off is too optimistic.”

There are a bunch of things in that write-up that I agree with. Yes, 20 hands is not a huge sample size, there’s going to be a bunch of variance is play styles as far as the stats are concerned. Two, he did not start the hand with a full stack, so yeah I agree starting with 80 big blinds is a little bit odd and not necessarily something that I think a great player would do. Yes, I agree that his squeeze size is totally fine. Then I also agree that I think folding is too nitty.

stop being nitty

Now just because folding is too nitty does not necessarily mean that I have to call simply because stacking off is, and I quote, “too optimistic.” Let’s think real quick about what we have here. We have a 6 max game, we raised and someone decided to squeeze on the button. Does that mean that that person only has the nuts or a super nuttish range when they squeeze? I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that that’s the case here. Because of that, I’m not thinking about folding.

Then I ask myself, “okay if I call what happens?” Well if we decide to call, like Hero did, we’re giving Chicken Dinner a great price, plus he’s closing action, and we’re essentially allowing him to actualize any chunk of his equity with things like pocket 4s, pocket 8s, connectors, Ace-10, all that kind of stuff. Usually I don’t want to just allow people to actualize equity for very, very cheap against me, so I don’t particularly love flatting and just letting him get involved and now all of a sudden we’re out of position in a 3-way pot that’s going to be pretty awkward and bloated and just not really where I think my edge is going to lie.

Which then pushes me back to really hardcore exploring the 4-bet. You can actually proof the exact value of a 4-bet commit mindset by using a fold equity calculator. We’ve done that a bunch in other videos so I’m not going to go through it here, I think at this point it’s kind of becoming repetitive math, but you can definitely proof it if you wanted to. In this situation I would just think about and say, okay Zachu probably doesn’t just have the nuts. First and foremost it’s 6 max, secondly I don’t think there’s any reason to think that he only has like Kings plus or Queens plus Ace-King here; I think there’s going to be other stuff in there.

nitty 3bet range

QQ+/AK is only 2.6% of hands. Is villain really 3betting that tight here?

Just for the record, when he does have something like Queens plus Ace-King, if we do decide to commit it, if we just do a basic equity calculation, Jack still has 36 percent equity against that, and if we think there’s any percentage chance that Zachu is going to commit with a wider range, let’s say 10s plus, Ace-Queen plus, then you notice that our equity just gets higher and higher. This is not a situation where I’m considering trying to get away from this by any stretch. I think there’s a lot of value actually in just fighting for this. There’s already 5 dollars in the middle, that’s 20 big blinds that we can start contending for right this moment. If there’s any shade at all in Zachu’s range, things that would squeeze and then fold, then we’re just picking up 5 dollars uncontested that chunk of the time, and the rest of the time we’re getting in with varying equity that at minimum is going to be 36 percent and on average is probably going to be significantly higher.

This is a situation where I think a lot of players do flat because it’s comfortable. They get to see what happens, they get to see how the flop rolls out, and then they make decisions from there. I don’t think this is best spot to. I’d much rather attack, let Zachu know that he’s not going to be squeezing every single time that I open, there’s a caller, and he just decides to go wild on it. I want to shut that action down. Again, I don’t mind getting it in, and yes sometimes I’m going to get it in and I’m going to be against Kings and it’s going to suck, but it is what it is, it’s built into the whole equation. So don’t fear getting it in in gambling a little bit. You’d actually be surprised the times you do get it in how often Zachu will show up with something like pocket 10 or maybe something a little bit lighter, or maybe you go up to something like 7.50 here and he decides to think that there is any semblance of fold equity and makes a shove with whatever nonsense he has. A lot of players just play too nitty in these situations. Yes, folding is too nitty, but I think always calling here and avoiding stacking off with anything other than exactly Queens plus or exactly Kings plus is doing yourself a disservice.

fold equity calc

Okay, I’m just going to breeze through the rest of the hand, because we do end up calling, Chicken Dinner decides to fold. Go heads up to it. Hero decides to check-call on this flop, and this is a flop where I would just check-raise and get it all in. Now, we think about it, we got to this flop with a little over 2SPR, so I’m kind of already in a commitment mindset as is, and I’m also thinking that Zachu could have things like 9s, 10s, things like that that I’d like to get in it with, and I’m also cool if I shut out his equity if he has something like Ace-King or Ace-Queen. Again, all that’s kind of taken into consideration when I think about why I like to 4-bet a preflop as opposed to just flat it.

In this scenario here, decides to go for the check-call, and again all the check-call does is allow your opponent to actualize his equity on his terms, and you’re putting yourself in a situation where you’re probably going to check-call down a lot of the time anyway, but you’re just allowing Zachu to improve with things like Ace-King, Ace-Queen, and even possibly slow down with something like 10s if say a bad turn card rolls off or a bad river card rolls off.

As played, the turn goes check-check, Ace on the river, and Hero decides to check-call. Now Hero ends up winning this pot, and that’s all well and good I guess, but this is one of those where when you look at Zachu’s line – squeeze preflop, C-bet flop, check behind turn, and then drill it on the Ace, I think you’re going to be looking at Ace-King, Ace-Queen a little bit more often than you want to. I don’t think that he’s going to check the turn behind with overpairs and stuff, and thus when he drills the Ace it really looks like something like Ace-King, Ace-Queen, that looks realistic. Now yeah, at the end of the day we won the pot, that’s all well and good.

Again, the fact that you see this kind of hand means that the squeeze range was probably wider than you originally thought, and again lose even more validity for forebetting the preflop. Chances are when you forebet he probably actually goes away, and that’s okay. You’re picking up 5 dollars uncontested preflop, can’t complain about that, and you’re being more and more aggressive, as opposed to constantly playing on your heels by just flatting anyone else’s aggression when you don’t have exactly Queens plus or exactly Kings plus type stuff.

SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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