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"Q" is for Queens

by Bill Burton

Bill Burton is the author of 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets available at, and Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em available at He is an instructor for Golden Touch Craps:


Pocket Queens

I have a love/hate relationship with pocket queens. Sometimes they will give me great pleasure and shower me with riches and the next time they steal my money and kick me to the gutter. Queens are fickle and you have to play them cautiously or they will break your heart.

Pocket queens are the third most powerful starting hand; however, strong starting hands do not necessarily win the pot. Queens and Jacks are the "Baby Paint" cards. Obviously, Queens are a little stronger than Jacks, but both of them are vulnerable to the single Aces and Kings that many low-limit players will play, if an overcard shows up on the flop. (An overcard is any card higher than the ones you hold.)

In most games, from any position, you definitely want to raise with pocket Queens to thin the field. The only exception is in very low-limit games where the table consists of very loose players and calling stations. In late position, with six or more players, you may only want to call with pocket Queens since you only have roughly a 20 percent chance of winning. However, you will have to pay attention to your opponents play. I have probably saved more money by not raising pre-flop with these hands in most low limit games.

If you see an overcard on the flop, you shouldn't hesitate to bet the hand but be wary if there is a raise. If no card higher than your Queen or Jack appears on the flop, you should raise with the top pair if a player ahead of you bets. You want to make it expensive for anyone who might be holding a single Ace or King. If you should happen to flop a set of Queens or Jacks then you might want to just call if there is a bet, and then go for a raise on the turn when the betting limits are higher. The problem with starting with a pair is that you usually need to flop a set or a straight or straight draw to improve your hand because you are vulnerable if there are overcards on the flop.


Ace-Queen suited is one of the top ten starting hands and an unsuited Ace-Queen is in the top 20 hands. That being said, many players lose money with Ace-Queen in limit games. Daniel Negreanu used to call A-Q "1.4," named after how many million he has lost with it.

It is singlehandedly the biggest trouble hand in poker. A-Q is a Top 10 hand, but it is not a premium hand. In tight games, if a queen is the highest card in the flop, you will probably end up winning a very small pot. Those small pots will be offset by some very large losses when you lose. No matter how you look at it, Ace-Queen is a drawing hand. Many players tend to forget this and play it like a big pocket pair.

Ace Queen suited does give you a more powerful hand with a flush draw because only a suited Ace-King can beat you if you make a flush. If you happen to be in a game with players who play any suited cards, you will clean up.


Queen-Seven is called the computer hand because computer simulations show this hand will win 51.77 percent heads up against a random hand. So with this hand, or any hand higher than this one, you are almost forced to play in a heads-up game. However, it is not a hand you would play in a multi-way pot. In a limit game, if you are in the big blind and the button or small blind attempts to steal your blind you can treat this like a heads up situation.

Use Caution

There is nothing set in stone about how to play any poker hand. It all depends on the type of game you are in and the types of players in that game. However, I always give a starting hand that contains a queen some extra thought before I decide to play it because I know how much trouble the ladies can be.

Until Next time, remember:

Luck comes and goes ... Knowledge Stays Forever.


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