How To Bluff Squeeze Preflop

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Do you know how to bluff squeeze preflop?  Knowing how to run this powerful play can help you turn junky hole cards into easy profit…so long as you know what to look for.  This video covers bluff squeezing from a consideration, mathematical, and card type point of view to give you a well-rounded education.  Or if you are the reading type, the script for the video can be found below.  Enjoy!

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Hello, and welcome to this Quick Plays video on bluff squeezing preflop. The truth of the matter is that we are dealt garbage starting cards way more often than hands like QQ and AA. But the good news is that we can turn those junky starting hands into easy profit with a good bluff squeezing strategy. In this video you will learn what a squeeze is, what to consider before squeezing, and little details you can tweak to make this play even more profitable!

First, what is a squeeze? A squeeze is a special preflop 3bet where the original raise got 1 or more callers. So if we take this hand where EP opens to $3, MP calls $3, and the CO folds…hero could re-raise and squeeze. If the CO had called as well this would also be a squeeze opportunity. But if both MP and the CO had folded it would NOT be a squeeze opportunity. The whole point of a squeeze is to 3bet and SQUEEZE out the dead money from the callers who likely have weaker hands.

weak call 2bet range

Which brings us nicely to the considerations we want to analyze before squeezing. These considerations include:

  • who the open raiser is and how they will likely react to a squeeze
  • who the caller is, or callerS are, and how they will likely react to a squeeze
  • who the players left to act are and how they are likely to react to a squeeze
  • our squeeze size and how that influences the breakeven % and likely folds
  • our hole cards

At first this list may seem daunting with so many things to consider before making a simple squeeze. But in reality we want to be considering these things in EVERY hand…so this list should become second-nature and something you always consider before making any preflop action.

Let’s go right in order with our considerations and start with the open-raiser. Start by thinking about the hands he likely open-raised and then which hands he’d continue with if we squeezed. If he open-raises very tight, say 77+/AQ+ then he likely won’t fold very often against our squeeze. When we are bluff squeezing our major goal is to generate folds, and ideally to get those folds preflop so we can just pick up an easy pot and move onto the next hand.

The ideal open-raiser to squeeze is a player who will fold a large chunk of their open-raising range. So a player who open-raises 12% of hands and would only continue against our squeeze with JJ+/AK (3% of hands), is folding 75% of the time which is great for us! But if he’d only fold against my squeeze 50% of the time or less I’m not very likely to squeeze him with a junky hand.

12% opening range

Next we want to consider who the caller is, or callers if there are multiple. What kind of hands did they call the open-raise with and how would they react if we squeezed? If he called the open-raise with hands like small pairs and suited connectors is he likely to fold against our squeeze or call? Of course we are very happy if he just folds preflop…again…allowing us to pick up an easy preflop pot. But if he is going to call, how will he play postflop? If he’s going to call the open-raise AND squeeze with 33 is he going to just check/fold the flop when he misses his set? Or is he fishy and he won’t ever fold anything postflop? Against fishy callers I’m going to keep my squeeze range strong and value-heavy since a fish isn’t likely to fold preflop nor postflop reliably enough for me to bluff him.

As a general rule I suggest being more and more selective as there are more and more callers. The more callers there are the more players we need to get to fold which can be very tricky to do. Focus on squeezing players who call preflop open-raises with setmines or drawing hands and will fold them to the pressure of a squeeze. If they fold those kinds of hands to a squeeze you can expect a very large percentage of preflop folds…which is the goal when making this kind of bluff.

Also take a quick glance at the players left to act in the hand. In this situation that’s the SB and BB. As a general rule I dislike bluff squeezing here with huge fish in the blinds. Because if that fish calls then 1. we didn’t get everyone to fold preflop and pick up an easy pot and 2. it then becomes likely that EP and MP will both call as well. With tighter players and unknowns I usually assume they will fold a very large percentage of the time…but be very selective with fish and players with zero preflop discipline. Checking the players behind you is just good practice and something you want to get in the habit of doing regardless of what preflop action you are making.

The last two things to consider are our cards and the actual size of our squeeze. To figure out the size I use the rule 3.5x + .5x/caller. So with 1 caller I will squeeze 4x the open-raise size, with 2 callers 4.5x the open-raise size, etc. As with any sizing formula this is really just a starting point. In this situation a normal squeeze size would be to $12 (4 times the $3 open-raise size with a single caller), but always ask yourself if going larger or smaller would be more beneficial. For instance, if they will fold regardless of the squeeze size, couldn’t we get the squeeze away for just $11 instead? On the contrary, also consider spots where you may need to make your squeeze just a tad larger to generate those preflop folds often enough.

sizing a bluff

Just to simply understand how the bet size works into the profitability of the squeeze, we can figure out the breakeven % of the squeeze to ensure it will work enough of the time to be +EV. When analyzing a bluff squeeze I look for outright profitability, meaning that my opponents will fold often enough RIGHT NOW for my squeeze to be +EV. The breakeven % formula is simply risk/risk+reward. Where the risk is our squeeze size and the reward is what’s in the pot right now. So

$12/($12+$7.5) = 62%

If we expect to get folds at least 62% of the time preflop, this is an outright profitable squeeze! And of course if you risk less money you need less fold and if you risk more money then you need more folds to breakeven.

The last consideration is our hand. Most of the hands we are dealt will fit into the “bluff” category where we are very happy if everyone folds and we just pick up the pot preflop. And if we expect to get folds that often preflop then our hole cards don’t really matter much, right? Who cares if we have 85o, A3o, or Q9s…so long as we can bluff squeeze and pick up the pot we are happy!

Now some hands certainly play better than others. For one, if we get called preflop I’d rather have Q9s going postflop than 63o. But we can also consider blockers. A blocker is a card that limits how many combos of a certain hand villain can have. For instance, in this hand we have K3s which blocks combos of AK from 16 down to 12 and blocks combos of KK from 6 down to 3. Hands like Ax and Kx are usually great hands to use because they limit the number of super strong combos that open-raisers wouldn’t fold to a squeeze. And if we have to go postflop Ax and Kx have decent equity. Even against JJ our K3s has 31% equity (much better than the 12% equity of 82o or 18% equity of T7s).

 

While there are many things we want to consider before bluff squeezing, you may be surprised how many good squeeze spots you’ve been passing up. Good squeezes are an easy way to make money with hands you would otherwise fold. Practice looking for good bluff squeezes in your own games and go down that checklist to ensure you are making easy profit with those ugly cards. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know…otherwise good luck and happy grinding!

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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