Playing Pocket Queens in No Limit Texas Holdem

Playing Pocket Queens in no-limit texas hold'em can be a bit of a tricky hand to play. Lets look at some strategies on how to play them pre-flop and after the flop.


Pocket Queens are the third best starting hand in no-limit texas hold'em behind Aces and Kings, so you should raise pre-flop as you can be pretty certain to have the best hand before any community cards have been dealt. When you come in for a raise, it will usually be 3-4x the BB plus one BB per limper that came into the pot. You don't want to make the raise too small since it just encourages other players to call your raise, which doesn't allow you to thin the field.

If there has been a raise in front of you there are different ways you can choose to play the hand. If you're facing an open raise from an early position player and you know this player has a tight pre-flop raising range, especially from early position, then you can call here since you want to keep dominated hands such as 99/TT/AQ hands in their range, and by flatting it allows you to under represent your hand enabling you to extract more value from your hand then you otherwise would have.

However, deciding to simply flat call an open raise instead of playing the hand more aggressively does pose certain risks. It opens up the possibility of there being a large multi-way pot and when you get many callers the value of your big pocket pair goes down considerably. So you really need to have a good gauge on the way the table is playing and how you can expect the other players to act.

When a player opens in front of you but this time they do it from a late position, in this situation it can make a lot more sense to 3-bet instead of flat the raise, especially if you know the initial raiser will call with a really wide range of hands. By doing this you prevent the possibility of many callers coming along to see a cheap flop and trying to suckout on you, and the re-raise will isolate him by knocking out everybody else behind you.

Trying to be trappy when you have pocket queens almost never works because when you have the best hand at showdown you will have won a very small pot since you didn't raise or re-raise before the flop. You are also allowing worse hands such as Ax/Kx and other speculative hands to see a flop cheaply, allowing them to flop big and potentially win a really big pot from you, when they shouldn't have even been in the hand.

Keep in mind, however, that how aggressive you should be when playing pocket queens pre-flop will largely depend on stack sizes. If you're playing with 200bb effective then 3-betting is a much less attractive option since you want to keep the pot small. When stacks go all in when playing this deep stacked if your pocket queens haven't improved you very likely won't have the best hand. But when playing in no-limit games where player's effective stacks are 100bb or less, you generally want to play the hand a lot more aggressively.

After the Flop

If your pre-flop raise gets called from one or more opponents, you are really hoping to not see an Ace or King on the flop, turn or river cards. On the flop, if you have an overpair to the board, such as QQ on a board of 9-4-2 then you should bet the flop to get value from worse pairs and keep betting later streets for maximum value. If an opponent is a calling station you may even get calls from Ax hands on this flop.

Sometimes you will not always like queens on the flop, such as QQ on a board of A-T-8. In these situations it's very much situational/player dependant. If one player called quite often you can bet the flop expecting the other player not to have an ace and take it down straight away.

But if there are three or more callers after you raise big pre-flop, then one of the players could very easily be holding an Ace in their hand, and you should check back. Scare cards on the turn and river will likely also be scare cards for your opponents so you may still feel like you have the best hand with your queens especially when you're not involved in a big multi-way pot.

When all is said and done, you should recognize Pocket Queens aka “the ladies” are a strong pre-flop starting hand in no-limit hold'em, but it's vulnerable. An overcard is going to come on the flop around 30% of the time so you really want to narrow down the field of players.