When you play No-Limit poker Texas Hod'em, a pair of queens is one of the best hands you can get before the flop. However, you should know that there are two problems you'll encounter playing this hand in the pre-flop. In case you get in the middle of a 'raising war' you'll probably face the only hands you are really scared of: aces or kings. After the flop, you should be really careful because an over-card to your pair could be dangerous and you should be aware not become 'married' to the hand and fold if you think you could be beat.
On this article you'll learn how to play queens before and after the flop depending on the situation. You'll be influenced by the betting styles and tendencies of other players, the size of the stacks compared to the blinds and your position at the table.
How pocket Queens compare to other hands
There are very low chances that your pair of queens will face kings or aces. In case betting gets heavy before the flop, you should evaluate the situation and take into account the tendencies and possible ranges of the other players. Though it I not easy to fold pocket queens but you should be able to do it if you believe your opponent has pocket kings or aces.
Suppose you raise pre-flop and get re-raised. You should read the information your opponent is giving you and decide if you call to see the flop or re-raise before the flop. If the other poker player is super-tight and you know that he would only re-raise with aces, kings or ace-king, then you should pay attention to the probability of each using card distribution.
You'll see that there are 16 possible ways of being dealt ace-king before the flop and only 6 ways each of being dealt either pair. The probability of the other player having aces or kings is approximately 43% with Ace-King at 57%. You could be a small favorite or a great underdog in this situation, your decision to see the flop will depend on how likely your opponent is to fold when he gets Ace-Kings and none of these cards appear.
When your opponent is looser there are great chances that your hand is the best before the flop, even if you get re-raised. When you play with an opponent who habitually re-raises you may when you are in a position in which you hold a dominating hand such as Ace-Queen or a pair of Jacks.
Card distribution in this case will not have such great influence as your position at the table and the stack size. When the loose raiser is sitting to your immediate right then you should re-raise. This will prevent other players from calling and will give you a heads up for the pot in position. The strength of your hand can be affected when 2 or 3 more people call after you call a raise and if an ace comes out on the flop there are great chances it hit a player who called the raise and you may need to fold.
An ace or a king coming out on the flop may not so disastrous if you have re-raised. You'll have the chance to see how your opponents act before you on the flop and you could win the pot on the flop if you make a reasonable continuation bet. If your opponent makes a small bet out of position this could indicate weakness, he is just trying to get information about your hand. You should re-raise, fold to an all-in check-raise or re-raise against all your opponents but the worst.
Consider stack sizes
Stack sizes will have an influence on any hand of no-limit poker hold'em you play, and this particularly happens with pocket queens. We have already covered how to face re-raises when you have a big stack but in tournaments you'll also find shallow stack play and you need to adjust to it.
Raising and re-raising when you have queens is the optimal play when the blinds and antes reach 10% of your stack. This happens because comparatively your opponents will have larger ranges in short stacked situations. When your opponent 3 bets all in and he is in position, he probably holds an under-pair to your queens and not the feared aces or kings. In a situation like this an all-in will boost your stack by giving you the added benefit of the blinds and antes.
A tricky spot
When you are at a full table and in early position and you receive a pair of queens, you are in a difficult situation. The default play is a raise, but in a loose table you could see 2, 3 or even more callers before the flop. The main factor here will be the way in which you judge the bets your opponents make especially because the betting action will not be closed after the flop.
Raising and even re-raising in this situation is better than checking and calling on your opponent when you are holding queens that are an over-pair to the board. You'll also be able to narrow your opponent's holdings thanks to the presence of draws on the board. You have to carefully evaluate an opponent who is eager to get all-in on a 'dry flop' like 2-7-J– you should think if they would only 3-bet with a set or if they are the type of player who thinks that their ace-jack holding is good here.
Pocket queens strategy evaluation
To sum up, using the combination of your hand strength before the flop, having a good position at the table and taking into account the meaning of your opponent's bets and raises are the most important aspects of playing with a pair of queens. You'll see how to proceed with such a strong but complicated hand after the flop by gathering information about the looseness or tight playing styles from opponents who re-raise.