Pocket Queens are the third strongest starting hand in Texas Hold’em, so you should be happy each time you get it. After all, your chances of winning the pot increase drastically each time you look down at this hand.
However, there will be some tricky spots to navigate with this holding. In this guide, we will break down how to play pocket queens and share some strategy implementations that can come in handy.
If no one has made a bet, the action comes to you, and you look down at pocket queens, you should always raise this hand.
Pocket Queens is a strong hand that wants to build the pot as fast as possible, especially if there hasn’t been any action.
If you have pocket queens and somebody has already made a raise, 3-betting or re-raising them will be the right thing to do in most cases.
You are building the pot and extracting value from your opponent by proceeding in this way. Furthermore, you are preventing other players from joining the action, which is always a good strategy with QQ since the hand plays best in heads-up pots.
To determine the size of the 3-bet, you need to consider your position, the action, and the effective size stack.
If you are against one opponent and you have a position on them, your 3-bet can be around 2.5 to 3 times the amount of their initial raise.
For example, if the CO opens to $10 and you have pocket queens on the BTN, you will want to 3-bet your hand to anywhere from $25 to $30.
On the other hand, if you are against one opponent but he has a position on your, the size of your 3-bet should be anywhere from 3.5 to 4 times their bet.
For example, if the CO opens to $10 and you are in the BB with pocket queens, you should 3-bet to somewhere between $35 and $40.
Remember, you should always use larger 3-bet sizing when you are out of position with pocket queens because your opponent will have a much easier time realizing his equity post-flop when he is in position, and you need to charge him for this before the flop.
If you find yourself in a situation where there was a raise and a call before the action got to you, you should make a squeeze raise to around 4 or 4.5 times the size of the initial raise if you are in position. If you are out of position, you should increase the size of your squeeze to somewhere between 5 to 5.5 times and add one more big blind for every additional player in the pot.
For the most part, you should avoid just calling with pocket queens before the flop when you are facing an open.
In most scenarios where you face a 3-bet with pocket queens, you will want to 4-bet this hand. However, unlike when you are holding pocket aces or pocket kings, there will also be situations where you want to make a call.
If you are in position when facing a 3-bet with pocket queens, the size of your 4-bet should be somewhere around 2.2 to 2.5 times the amount of the 3-bet. If you are out of position, you should increase the size of your 4-bet to somewhere around 2.5 or 2.8 the amount of the 3-bet.
For example, if you are in position facing a $200 3-bet, you should 4-bet to somewhere between $440 and $500, and if you are out of position, the size of your 4-bet should be somewhere around $500 to $560. Of course, it also depends on the size of the effective stack size, but this is a good baseline to have.
As we mentioned earlier, 4-betting pocket queens will not always be the right play, and this is exactly what makes the preflop strategy for pocket queens a bit more complicated than that of other premium holdings.
Imagine that you are playing in a deep stack game, you open pocket queens from UTG, and a tight passive opponent 3-bets you from the HJ.
In this scenario, just calling would not be a terrible idea since there is a high chance that your opponent will not continue against your 4-bet if he has a worse hand than pocket queens. By calling, you keep his range much wider and protect your overall calling range, making your life much easier on further streets.
If you are in a pot against a competent opponent and face a 4-bet, you will almost always want to go all in. And while your pocket queens will not always be the strongest hand, they will have enough equity on average.
The equity of the hand + the dead money in the pot + fold equity will be enough to make this a profitable play in the long run.
However, if you have read that your opponent is extremely tight, you might want to consider just calling.
Playing pocket queens after the flop is where things get a little tricky for most players, especially if there is an overcard on the board.
Here are a few pieces of advice on approaching these situations and increasing your EV in these spots over the long run.
Having an overpair with pocket queens after the flop is a great situation. However, this hand is much more vulnerable than pocket aces in the same scenario since there are still overcards that can come.
Because of this, you should avoid slow-playing queens, especially if there is a weaker player in the hand. Weaker players tend to have much wider calling ranges on the flop, and you should take advantage of this in situations where you do not block a part of the board.
For example, if you have Qh Qd and the flop comes Ts 7d 4c.
In this situation, you are best with making a bet on the flop to extract value from both made hands and draws. Remember, even though your hand looks amazing at this point, this could all change on the turn.
If you make a bet on the flop and face a raise, the main thing to pay attention to is if you are in the hand against one or multiple opponents. In multi-way pots, there is a much higher chance that your opponent has a good hand when he raises, and you should proceed with caution.
However, there are some rare situations where you might want to slow-play it. If the flop comes something like Q33, there is really not much point in betting.
Your opponent is very unlikely to have any piece of that, so they will probably fold. On top of that, you are not afraid of rundowns, so give a free card and let your opponent catch up a bit with the hope of getting some value later or inducing him to bluff.
When you have an overpair with pocket queens on the flop, you should look to extract as much value as possible with big bets. There are two main reasons for this:
Because of this, big bets are the best way to go.
Imagine a situation in which you have Qs Qd, and your opponent has Js Jd, and the flop comes Ts 6d 4c.
In this scenario, your opponent will call a bet or raise on the flop no matter what, and you should take advantage of this by betting big since there are a lot of cards on the turn that can ruin your actions, such as an ace, a king, or a queen.
If you are against multiple opponents, on the other hand, you should approach the spot quite differently.
The main reason your strategy should be different based on the number of opponents in the hand is that their calling ranges will be much tighter in multi-way pots than in heads-up situations. In addition, the equity of your hand will be much lower in these situations than when you are facing only one opponent.
Because of this, you should decrease your bet size on the flop even when you have an overpair to allow your opponents to call with a wider range of hands.
If you hit a set with pocket queens in a heads-up pot, depending on the number of players in the hand, there are two ways that you can approach this spot.
In a situation where you are facing one opponent in a single raised or a 3-bet pot, checking could be a good option if there aren’t many hands that could kill your hand or your action on the turn. This is especially true in 3-bet pots where your opponents will have much tighter ranges.
On the other hand, if you have a set of pocket queens in a multi-way pot, you are best off with betting since the chance that one of your opponents has caught a part of the flop is much higher.
Let’s take an example and assume you are 3-way with Qd Qh, and the flop comes As Qc 7s.
This is a perfect situation to continue betting and building up the pot since you do not block the top pair, the straight draw, or the flush draw. Checking in this spot would be a sub-optimal play.
Pocket queens are a great hand, but if you come with them all the way to the turn, there is a chance that your hand will not be as good as it was on the flop or before it.
If an ace or a king comes on the turn, the value of your hand will go down significantly, and checking to use it as a bluff-catcher is your best option.
There are two main reasons for this:
Because of this, if you continue to bet, there is a chance that your opponent will fold all his worst hands and continue only with the hands that beat you. So a bet in this situation would isolate you against a part of your opponent's range that is stronger than yours.
In situations where you do have the best hand even after a bad turn, there is a high likelihood that your hand has become a two-street hand, meaning that you can bet two streets, so skipping turn to see how your opponent reacts is a good idea.
As we mentioned, if there is one situation in which slow-playing pocket queens are a good idea, it is when you hit a set in 3-bet or 4-bet pots. This is especially true if you have the top set.
With a top set, you are blocking a big part of your opponent's calling range, and by checking, you are allowing him to bluff or catch up with you on later streets.
In addition, in 3-bet and 4-bet pots, the stack-to-pot ratio is much lower, which means that you don’t have to bet three streets to get all the money in by the river in most cases. So by checking, you are not losing value.
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