You are playing in a nine seat, no limit Texas Hold’em cash game or tournament. Learning to play pocket queens. Were taught that this is one of the top tier hands. You are in an early betting position. What would you do to maximize your chances of winning at least double your money? Would you 1) check and hope that someone down the line makes a bet, 2) bet 6 times the big blind or 3) go all in?
Check Your Pocket Queens
There is always a temptation to check and slow play your pocket Queens before the flop and hope that someone down in better position bets. This is just very bad playing for the reasons I will elaborate on. If no one raises or bets six times the big blind it will likely be called by at least one or more additional people before it gets back to you. With three or more people in the game, the power of your pocket queens drops dramatically. If you and two additional players see the flop the odds of your winning goes down to about 43%. If three additional players stay in your odds go down to 34%. After all, you have is a moderately high pair which tends to not be a winner at end game.
Before any bet is made you have the probable best hand before the flop. You do not want to let more than one person call you. This will make you the under-dog against the rest of the field, a situation you do not want to be in. Never slow play a pair of pocket queens. You want to win this hand, not go down in flames.
Bet 6 Times The Big Blind
You can bet six times the big blind. In an early position you will likely be called by one, two or three players on a nine player table. This variability is one problem inherent with a moderate bet. In addition, if someone raises the bet you will be playing weak for the rest of the game. Again with two or more additional players you become less than a 43% under-dog. On the flop if an ace or king shows, you may find yourself unwilling to fold due to pot odds or the possibility that other players are just on the come for a flush or straight.
If you have queens and the flop does not include a third queen and does include a king or ace, get out of that pot. Remember that a good player knows when to fold a pair of queens, kings or even aces.
Bet All In With Your Queen Pair
Yes, this is the correct play in an early position. More than likely you will steal the blinds. If not it is unlikely that more than one person will call you. Before the flop you are a 54% to 57% favorite, even against an ace/king suited. You are in better shape if you are called by another pair as long as it is not aces or kings.
The flop will probably be a good indication whether you are going to win or not. However, you have committed all your money and have no further decisions to make. Cross your fingers and hope lady luck stays with you.
Remember that if your caller has an ace queen, he has only one live card and only three outs to beat you. There is also the possibility of them straightening or flushing but that is only about 3% before the flop. Once in a while your queens may lose to a lower pair that gets a set (three of a kind) on the flop or later, but that is poker for you.