Home Poker Starting Hands in No-Limit Hold’em: How to Play QQ

Starting Hands in No-Limit Hold’em: How to Play QQ

by Paul Hewson
0 comment
Poker Pocket Queens

Things are getting serious now. No-Limit Texas Hold’em doesn’t require a lot of brain power when you’re dealt pocket Aces and Kings – you’ll do just fine always raising those bad boys pre-flop. But the third most powerful starting hand in Hold’em doesn’t work particularly well as a blunt instrument.

I’m talking about pocket Queens, of course. On the surface, the drop-off from KK (82% hot-and-cold equity versus two random cards) to QQ (80%) isn’t all that dramatic. You’d certainly be more than happy to open-raise from any position at the table; if anyone 3-bets, you’re definitely not folding.

It’s what you do next that needs your close attention. Once you get into a raised pot, pocket Queens is the kind of hand that can win you a lot of chips, or leave you in the poorhouse. Let’s sort out which situations are best handled with aggression, and which ones demand a bit more caution from your pre-flop poker strategy.

When Should I Raise With QQ?

Before we answer that question, consider what kind of Hold’em game you’re playing. I ran the “game-theory optimal” (GTO) numbers for a 6-max cash game, 100 big blinds deep and 2.5x open-raises; if you’re playing a tournament, or if you’re in a deep-stacked cash game, you might want to take the safe route a bit more often than the recommendations I’m giving here.

Aside from always open-raising with pocket Queens, you’ll almost always want to re-raise if someone 3-bets you pre-flop – and you’re out of position. The only exception is if you open from under the gun at a 6-max table, or earlier if you’re full-ring. Because your opening range is strong from these seats, your opponent’s 3-betting range should also be strong, and now your QQ is more vulnerable.

What if someone else opens the pot first? Then you’ll be 3-betting with those Queens – and squeezing if there’s a caller as well. But if you get 4-bet in return, red lights should go off in your head. The only time you should get into an all-in pre-flop raising war with QQ is if you opened from the small blind, and you have the right amount of chips to 6-bet jam.

When Should I Call With QQ?

If someone 3-bets you from the blinds. As a general rule, your opponents should be raising here with a “linear” range that doesn’t include a lot of speculative hands like suited connectors. So call that 3-bet, then hope the Dealer doesn’t put an Ace or a King on the board post-flop.

Then you have those rare pre-flop cases when you’re both in early position and out of position. If you’re a relative beginner, this is also a good time to keep it cool by flatting your opponent’s 3-bet.

Yes, you’ll end up folding post-flop quite a bit, but in No-Limit poker, a penny saved is worth two pennies earned.

In fact, Queens are so vulnerable in raised pots that you should always flat your opponent’s 4-bet, no matter where you’re sitting. And if you opened from the button and eventually got 5-bet by the small blind, consider calling here instead of jamming.

When Should I Use a Mixed Strategy With QQ?

Not very often, and only if you’ve got some post-flop chops. As you open from later and later position, your QQ will be dealing with weaker ranges when your opponents fight back; this creates some wiggle room for you to mix your 4-betting strategy between raising and calling.

There’s also that subtle difference between getting raised by the small blind, and getting raised by the big blind. There’s not enough difference to switch your strategy in most cases, but if you open from the button with Queens, always call when the small blind 3-bets, and sprinkle in some raises when it’s the big blind. Be more likely to 4-bet the SB and flat the BB as you open closer to the hijack.

Don’t worry about getting these mixed strategies down to specific percentages and using random number generators to decide between raising and calling. The more you understand your situation, and the players you’re up against, the more information you’ll have to make that decision – and you’ll need it even more for our next starting hand, those infamous pocket Jacks.

author avatar
Paul Hewson
Paul Hewson (not that one) is a poker player/writer from the Pacific Northwest, appearing on the World Poker Tour, MILLIONS Tour and the WSOP Circuit series. Hewson is the senior writer for the Bodog Poker family; Texas Hold’em is his specialty, with side hustles in 8-Game and Badugi. He’s an Abe Limon Guy.

You may also like

JoeWager is your leading source for trending topics relevant to offshore gamblers, including betting resources, sports & casino guides, entertainment topics, politics and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest Articles

Copyright 2023 – All Right Reserved.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More