How to Play Pocket Queens - This Might Shock You

How to Play Pocket Queens
People often ask me how to play pocket queens. And I get it, pocket queens is a tricky hand to play. If the flop comes with an ace or a king in particular it can be difficult to know where you stand.

But in my experience there is definitely a "right way" and a "wrong way" to play your pocket queens in No Limit Hold'em.

Pocket queens should be one of your absolute biggest winnings hands. And so in this article I am going to show you step by step how to play your pocket queens more profitably.


1. Always Raise or Re-Raise Preflop With Your Pocket Queens


Put simply, pocket queens is the third best hand in No Limit Hold'em. Therefore, you should almost always be raising or re-raising with this hand when you enter the pot.

This means that you should raise if you are the first person to enter the pot preflop (3 times the big blind is standard). Or, if somebody else has already raised before you, then you should 3Bet (re-raise) them.

Now the sizing of your 3Bet depends on your position at the poker table. And more specifically it depends on whether or not you have position on the person you are re-raising.


Here is My General Rule of Thumb:
  • If I have position on the original preflop raiser then I will 3Bet with pocket queens to 3 times their raise size.
  • If I am out of position to the original preflop raiser though, then I will 3Bet with pocket queens to 4 times their raise size.

Let's look a a few examples to help illustrate this.


Example #1

You have QQ on the button and somebody raises from middle position to $3

You should re-raise them to $9


Example #2

You have QQ in the big blind and somebody raises from middle position to $3

You should re-raise to $12


However, there is one very important caveat to this 3Betting strategy with pocket queens that I do need to mention here.

And that is if the original preflop raiser is an extremely tight poker player, and he raises from early position (also sometimes called "under the gun"), then I will sometimes just flat call with my pocket queens.

The reason why I do this is because I know that a tight player's range from early position is going to be extremely narrow.

He may only be raising with as few hands as:

  • AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT and AK


Now as you can see below we are still a statistical favorite versus this range preflop:

How to Play Pocket Queens

However, our edge versus this range is very thin and I would rather not get into a raise and re-raise war versus this player especially when we have the huge advantage of position after the flop.

Therefore, I prefer to just flat call in a spot like this and use my position to outplay this player on the flop, turn and river.


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2. How to Play Pocket Queens on a Low Card Flop


Alright, so let's talk about how to play pocket queens after the flop now. What type of flop you get is going to play a crucial role in how you should play your hand.

So let's look at a few low card flops first such as:

36T

5JJ

These are great flops for pocket queens because our hand is an overpair to the board. We are beating any top pair such as a JT on the first flop. And on the second flop we are also way ahead of all pocket pairs such as pocket 9's or pocket tens.

So in situations like this you typically want to just play your pocket queens aggressively. And what I mean by that is essentially just betting or raising until you are given a clear reason not to do so.

It is very important that you get the maximum value in situations like this with your pocket queens especially when your opponent has a good 2nd best hand like I just mentioned above.




Now of course there are going to be some rare occasions where your opponent actually has you beat such as with a flopped set or with trips on the 2nd flop above.

These situations are very rare though and usually they will let you know with a big raise on either the turn or the river.

By the way if you want to know more about when you need to fold a hand like pocket queens and what signs to look for, make sure you read my complete guide to knowing when to fold an overpair.

But the bottom line is that most of the time you will have the best hand with pocket queens on low boards like this and it is hugely important that you value bet strongly to get the maximum out of them.


3. How to Play Pocket Queens on an Ace or King Card Flop


Ok so now that we know how to play our pocket queens on a low card flop let's look at the dreaded Ace or King flops.

Daniel Negrean actually discusses this exact situation in his new poker training course. Because it is simply one of the most difficult (and frankly annoying) spots to deal with sometimes!


For Example:

A42

KT6

Now we need to approach these flops with our pocket queens a lot differently than the low card flops that we saw before. And the reason why is simple. Our opponent could have an ace or a king in their hand!

However, it is important not to just assume that you are beat every time you catch one of these flops. You always have to remember that Ax or Kx hands represent just a small part of their entire range.




They could just as easily have some sort of random unpaired hand like JT or 76 that we are still way ahead of or a draw. They could also easily have a lower pocket pair such as 99 or 88 which we are also crushing.

So typically what I will do in these scenarios is look to get two streets of value. What I mean by that is I don't expect a competent player to call our bet on the flop, turn and river with a worse hand.


Therefore, I will often go for some sort of stop and go play such as:

  • Bet the flop, check the turn, bet the river
  • Check the flop, bet the turn, bet the river


Both of these lines create enough doubt in our opponent's mind that they will often look us up with a worse hand.

Now like we discussed before, there are going to be some situations where you will need to fold your pocket queens on a board like this.

But as mentioned, most of the time your opponent will make this very obvious to you by making a big raise on the turn or river.

The bottom line is that you shouldn't fear an ace or a king flop with your pocket queens. You should still look to get the maximum value out of your hand.

You will just need to pot control a little bit more. You will usually only get two streets of value instead of the three streets like you can often get on a low card flop.


4. How to Play Pocket Queens in a Multi-Way Pot


Let's talk about how to play your pocket queens in a multi-way pot next. If you play at the micros (NL50 and below online, $1/$2 or $2/$5 live), then you will know that multi-way pots are more common in these games.

You will often encounter many loose recreational players at these limits and when you raise preflop you might get called by several of them. I talk about how to play against these players at length in Crushing the Microstakes.

Now in a situation like this (regardless of what the flop is), you need to remember that there is simply a much higher chance that somebody hit the board and has you beat, or at very least has a strong draw.

So in large multi-way pots you also need to play your pocket queens more cautiously. You should still bet your hand strongly especially on low card boards, but you have to respect when one of them puts in a big raise especially on the turn or the river, especially the fish.

And this is because as I often say turn raises at the micro limits are almost always the nuts and river raises are literally always the nuts.

You need to remember that most players at the lower limits are passive. And so they don't often put in a raise on the "big money" streets (turn and river) as a bluff. In fact most of the time they won't even semi-bluff raise with a draw!

By the way if you don't know how to tell if a player is passive or not, I use a lot of poker software to help me with this. For my complete list of all the poker software I use, click here.

So like we discussed before on the ace and king flops, it is important not to panic with your pocket queens when you get 3 callers preflop. It's the micros, it's going to happen sometimes.

You should still go for the maximum value with your pocket queens. However at the same time, you want to play cautiously and not commit large portions of your stack with a one pair hand.


Final Thoughts


Knowing how to play your pocket queens profitably is vital to your success at the lower limits in particular. And this is because pocket queens is an incredibly strong hand and it will be one of your very biggest long term winners.

However, many people make the mistake of either not betting enough with their pocket queens or too much and not knowing when to get away.

On low card flops with pocket queens you should essentially just take them to value-town by betting the entire way unless you are given a clear reason not to do so (they raise the turn or river).

And conversely on ace/king flops and in large multi-way pots you still want to go for value but you have to temper your expectations a little bit more and play your hand a bit more cautiously.

Always remember that just like with pocket aces or pocket kings, your pocket queens is ultimately just a one pair hand (unless you hit a set).

Therefore, just because you get dealt pocket queens it isn't a license to print money. With that said, do not be afraid to play your pocket queens strongly and always try to get the maximum value.

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Let me know in the comments below how you play pocket queens. Do you struggle with this hand?

How to Play Pocket Queens

15 comments:

  1. How do you play your pocket queens? Is this a hand that gives you trouble? Let me know in the comments below!

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  2. Normally I just go all in, especially against call stations. But I have learnt from you to do this against smaller stacks than my own.

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    Replies
    1. It's never a bad idea to just shove with pocket queens versus bad players either preflop or on good flops. Often they will call with worse.

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    2. i shoved with em in a tourney last night, a 974 person 100 dollar top prize thing that i happened to be LEADING at the time... welp, i got called by 3 people, 1 had AA, one had KK, and one had JJ... i beat the guy with the jacks... such is poker life!!!

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  3. I play a very tight live game, 10-20 NL Evey time I go all -in pre-flop with 50 x big blind, only I persons i get called by are AA & KK. Sometimes AK. So, I limit pre-flop to 5 big blinds! Chichen! That's me!

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    Replies
    1. Wow, if your game is playing that tight then I would be bluffing them all like crazy. Just make sure you get outta the way when they finally wake up with the nuts.

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  4. In my experience, when playing online with fish heads up post flop, if I have JJ or QQ and the flop brings an overcard and I am out of position, I bet the flop, almost all the time the player who hit the overcard will raise. Easy fold. If he calls I check the turn; he almost certainly bets. Again, easy fold. If he slow plays to the river, same thing. In position if he bets the flop I probably call, but if he barrels again on the turn I'm done. No sense throwing good money after bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Morgan,

      I usually fold in these situations as well but I wouldn't exactly call them easy folds. I think you have to be very aware of the player type and any history between you or tilt that is involved. Sometimes these are calls for me.

      The other thing you can do (as I discuss in this article) is just mix it up sometimes and go for a delayed CBet or check/call when you have JJ/QQ and it's an overcard flop. I check the flop quite frequently in these spots especially when out of position.

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  5. Basically as you suggested, I think this is best strategy

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Andrew, glad this article helped!

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  6. The biggest improvement after a few months playing has been to fold them every once in a while to a large 4/bet from a nit or very aggresive player. Too many times I have ran into KK or AA from a nit and an aggresive player just barels too much after a 4/bet to comfrotably call down.

    Against recs while little dynamic just shove pre flop or flop, incredible how many times they just call with Ace high.

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  7. Thanks Nathan,
    Have you noticed how,some sights are getting a lot more aggresive? I just had someone 2.5x all in a 3 way 3bet pot on the turn with second pair JJK.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Kitty,

      I haven't noticed much change in the last couple years.

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    2. How consistently should you 4 bet preflop with pocket Queens vs opponents that you don't have information on? I played a hand this morning at NL10, where I did not 4 bet preflop and lost vs pocket Kings. Yes, its a cooler but I wish I had 4 bet preflop and lost less in the hand. Any advice Nathan? Thank you.

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    3. Hey Armon,

      The first thing that matters to me is 6max versus Full Ring. I am 4Betting QQ much more often in 6max than FR. Also, positions at the table are very important.

      For example, I am going to be much more likely to 4Bet with QQ if all the action is in late position around the button or blind versus blind because ranges tend to be wider.

      Conversely, I will be less likely to 4Bet QQ versus an early position player because his range tends to be much more narrow.

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