A very nice pair indeed, QQ is the third most powerful pre-flop poker hand and some players have claimed that they’ve played it more successful than AA or KK because they underplayed it and not scared off their opponents. However, there is no guarantee that you’ll win with two ladies: if you get into a raising war with another player, it’s very likely you’ll be up against the only hands you truly fear – aces or kings. Let’s look at how to play pocket queens both before and after the flop.
The math says that if you’re holding pocket queens, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to run against a pair that’s stronger. However, if the betting gets heavy before the flop, you need to carefully consider the player you’re going against and how they’ve played before. It’s hard to fold pocket queens before the flop, but if you think your opponent’s holding KK or AA, then there is no reason you shouldn’t fold. That said, against a looser opponent there is a greater likelihood that your hand is the best before the flop, even when re-raised. In fact against a habitual re-raiser you may in a position where you have a dominating hand – for example against Ace-Queen or a pair of Jacks.
Position is a dominant factor in higher-end pairs and how they’re played. If the loose raiser is to your right, then a re-lease is usually a good idea as it will prevent additional callers and ensure that you are playing the pot heads=up from position. Calling a raise and then seeing 2 or 3 more people enter the pot can easily ruin the strength of your hand – if an ace falls on the flop it is very likely to have hit someone who called the raise and you may have to fold.
However, coming from early position with pocket queens can be difficult. Of course you’ll raise, but a loose table means that two or three other people are definitely going to be in on the action before the flop. Your judgment on the other players’ bets based on their behavior previously becomes the critical fact, especially as you won’t close the betting action after the flop.
I’ve found that a raise and even a re-raise is the better play in a situation like this versus checking and calling an opponent’s bets. You want to narrow your opponent’s holdings, especially if the flop is something like 2-7-J. Is the other player one that would three-bet with a set or would they still keep going with something like Ace Jack?
The real key to playing with pocket queens is to use your hand strength before the flop and then rely on good position and your judgment in later rounds of betting. The playing styles of your opponents who re-raise will give you a lot of information on how to proceed with this strong yet tricky hand after the flop.