It’s almost always nice to look down and see pocket queens but playing the hand properly can actually take a little more skill than people realize. Because pocket queens is technically the third best hand in poker you’ve got to be aware of situations where you might be dominated. On the other hand you can’t be too scared when playing queens because you’re better than every other pocket pair besides pocket aces and pocket kings. We take an in-depth look at the odds behind pocket queens as well as some basic strategy for playing the hand.
Pocket Queens Basics
Pocket queens are the third best hand in No-Limit Hold’em and the only hands that you’re behind pre-flop are pocket kings and pocket aces.
Queens are also only 54% to beat ace-king suited because that particular hand has two overcards to queens. A-K vs. QQ is commonly referred to as a coin flip in poker. Outside of those three hands, however, pocket queens is fairly dominant pre-flop.
Once the flop comes pocket queens can look a lot different. It can be very difficult to play queens on dangerous boards that have aces or kings.
Fortunately queens can be a little easier to lay down than kings or aces so it tends to be a good hand for beginner players.
Here’s an overview of the numbers behind some of the common situations that pocket queens will be in:
You’ll notice that pocket queens are particularly strong against any random two cards. In fact queens are an 80% favorite to win against any two random cards. That’s not that far off from the 85% of pocket aces.
Similar to pocket aces and kings you’ll find that middle connectors and pairs gain a few percentage points against queens because their straight outs aren’t blocked by broadway cards. It’s not a huge amount but there’s a reason people love to play hands like 8-7 suited in an attempt to crack monster hands.
The value of queens disintegrates when it’s played against a large number of players and if you’re playing against at least four other players you’re actually no longer a favorite.
Tips for Playing Queens
Pocket queens are an interesting hand in poker.
They are extremely strong but not quite the same as pocket kings or pocket aces. Sometimes that’s helpful for new players because they don’t get nearly as attached to queens as they do with aces or kings.
The general strategy for queens, however, is fairly similar to the other power hands: You want to be betting.
A lot of new players fall into the trap of wanting to check their big hands and attempt to trap their opponents with deception. It’s a terrible plan with pocket queens because there’s a 40% chance the flop is going to bring an ace or a king.
You also want to be isolating players. Just like kings or aces, you don’t want to be playing pocket queens into a large number of players. Your odds of winning go down drastically if there are more than three people in a hand against you.
If you’re in early position with queens you definitely want to be betting. Some players use a large betting size in early position in order to chase a large number of callers. Meanwhile if you’re in late position you’re going to want to raise if there’s a bet in front of you.
Generally players with queens start to slow down once there’s a bet and raise in front of them. At this point you might want to consider a call and take a flop.
If you’re shortstacked in tournaments than queens are an easy all-in shove. Queens are also an absolute monster when you’re heads-up and you should play them accordingly.
If disaster strikes and an ace or king hits on the flop it doesn’t mean you have to fold immediately. Quite often players with queens will attempt at least one bet on the flop but if they face aggression they will lay it down. It’s important to balance your range, however.
The one time it’s really fortuitous to be up against pocket aces or queens is if you manage to flop a set. These are potentially double up opportunities.
One Trick for Playing Pocket Queens
If there’s one common misconception that new players have about pocket queens is that you should be calling most of the time.
The vast majority of the time pocket queens are favorites pre-flop. The likelihood of your opponent having aces or kings is extremely low.
You want to be betting with queens. The value of the hand actually goes down as the board continues (barring a set or other unlikely shenanigans).
Therefore you should be betting pre-flop. If the flop bricks out (unconnected with no overcards) then you should also be betting.
Queens are strong but you should be protecting them by betting and keeping your opponents with marginal hands from hitting two-pair, trips or rivered straights or flushes.
In this case a good defense is a good offense.
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