Observations of small schools of squids in captivity suggested that dominance relationships among males were based upon major differences in the frequency or duration of their agonistic behavior, but staged contests showed few differences. During staged contests, squids exhibited up to 21 separate behaviors. Some contests included a complex array of visual signals and side-by-side posturing (Lateral Display) followed by physical contact during Fin beating. There was behavioral variability and step-wise escalation during the contests: squids performed either 1. long sequences of visual signaling followed by Chasing and Fleeing; or 2. short sequences of visual signaling followed by physical Fin beating and ending with Chasing and Fleeing. Size influenced outcome in all contests; larger males were more likely to win the contest. Size had no effect on contest duration, but contest duration was shorter when resource value was high, especially when a male established temporary ownership of a female. We speculate that when the perceived resource value is high, male squids are more likely to engage in a shorter yet riskier fighting tactic.