How to Play Pocket Queens
written by: John
Being dealt pocket QQs is kind of a mixed blessing. It's a strong hand preflop seeing as how it's the 3rd best hand you can be dealt. But it can be a tricky hand to play post flop because it's vulnerable to over cards such as aces and kings.
With that in mind, the focus of this article will be to show you the different ways that you might consider playing pocket queens preflop, on the flop and following streets.
Playing Queens Preflop
In most cases, I play QQ preflop similar to how I might play aces and kings. If I'm the first to act I will raise anywhere from 2.5 to 5 times the big blind depending on if I'm in a cash game or MTT and where I'm positioned. If there are limpers ahead of me, I'll add one big blind per limper to my raise.
For tournaments and sit n go's, I'll almost always willing to stack off preflop with pocket queens. Keep in mind that this is at the lower stakes so worse players are willing to stack off with much less. Obviously, if I raise and I'm being played back at by a very solid and/or nitty player, I will be more inclined to play a flop than I would be to shove my stack in.
In cash games, I'm also willing to get queens in preflop. Again, the tighter and/or better a player is, the more I would prefer to see a flop if played back at and the worse a player plays, the more I want to go ahead and get my stack in.
The one thing I almost never do is open limp or slow play QQs. The reason being is that you let too many hands in like raggedy aces or kings that can easily out flop you. Pocket queens are going to do much better when they're heads up or 3 way going to the flop. This is only achieved (most cases) by raising.
Folding queens preflop is a very rare occurrence, but there might come a time where you find that it's necessary. One example might be if you have history with a player and he or she raises, you 3-bet and villain 4-bet shoves. You might feel that his 4-bet shove range only consists of aces and kings and elect to fold. This is also important to point out because in a situation like this, if someone that you have a history on raises in front of you from early position, you could also deduce that his range is narrow to begin with and avoid the gross situation of being 4-bet preflop by just flatting his or her initial raise.
Playing Queens Postflop, Turn and River
The trickiest part about playing pocket queens is playing them postflop. Many players have a tendency to become "married" to their hand. They have a hard time letting their hand go even if it's obvious that it would be the correct play.
So, is it ever obvious to let pocket queens go on the flop? Ah, yes and no. I mean, just because an ace or king is dealt on the flop doesn't automatically mean that your queens are no good. But it does mean you should play the hand cautiously.
For example, if I raise my QQs preflop, the big blind calls me and we see a flop of A-T-7, we're not always going to be behind. It's not a great flop, but it's a flop that you can c-bet and still get value from hands such as KQ, KJ, K9, Q9, J9, J8 and so forth. If you c-bet the flop and are called, you can then re-evaluate the turn. If the turn is a brick, say a 2, then you can likely fire again because there are more hands chasing draws to get value from than hands that beat you.
Now, this is obviously villain dependent and it would be a good idea to know what hands they're willing to flat your raises with. If it's a tighter player, I might be more inclined to check or check call the flop and see a turn - mostly for pot control. If I am bet into on both the flop and the turn, I can more than likely assume safely that my opponent has the ace and let my hand go.
In the scenario that my queens are an over pair to the board, how I play my hand will depend on how textured the board might be and how loose my opponent is. If my opponent is very loose and we saw a flop of 4-7-J, I might try checking the flop to see if I can induce a bluff on the turn. If the board were more draw-y like 4-8-9 of two suits, I'd be much more inclined to bet because there are so many different draws to get value from such as flushes TJ, QT, QJ or even hands like K9 and A9.
Another thing to keep in mind is that queens can be a good hand to be used as a bluff catcher. You might opt to pot control on an A-9-5 board and check/check or check/call. If the villain decides to make a bet on the river, depending on its size you might elect to call and will find that they were trying to push you off with a medium pair like 8s, Ts or Js. Of course, this isn't always the case - your opponent very well could have you beat. But by checking or check/calling, you at least kept the pot smaller so you minimized how much you lost.
How to Play Queens
Pocket queens can definitely be a valuable, yet tricky hand to play. You can't just play fit or fold, only continuing when your queens look to be the best and always fold when an ace or king is dealt on the flop. At the same time, you can't get too gung ho about your queens either and must be willing to fold them if there is heavy action.
The best way to play queens will be purely situational, but as long as you avoid becoming attached to them and can fold them when the time seems right, you'll find that pocket queens can be a quite vulnerable, yet profitable hand to play.