For some reason, people like to call preflop raises with QQ. To be honest, in the past I used to do this a lot as well. But if you flat QQ more than you 3bet it…keep reading…

3Betting QQ

Why is QQ so great?

Queens are the 3rd most powerful hand we can be dealt in NL. That ALONE should explain why this hand is so great. Sure it’s behind AA and KK, and sure it’s only a slight equity favorite over AK…but against every other hand it has a sizable equity edge. And being that poker is a game of edges…it would be a shame to play a hand with a large edge so passively.

Why flatting QQ sucks

What happens when you flat QQ? So many things that are disadvantageous. Here are just a few:

  1. We let weaker hands improve cheaply
  2. We don’t gain initiative
  3. Unless we are closing action, we invite others to come along cheaply as well
  4. If we don’t 3bet QQ, what does our 3bet range look like?

There are other reasons why flatting sucks, but this highlights many of the vital ones. First, why let a weak hand improve for a price that they determined? I don’t want to call a raise with QQ and let AT outflop me when villain only invested a few big blinds. I’d rather 3bet preflop and really charge those dominated hands to contend with me.

Point 3 relates heavily to live poker (or any full ring poker game really). Say EP opens and you call with QQ in MP. That means there are lots of players behind you that are getting a better price to get involved preflop with a variety of hands. It’s easy to call here and get a handful of callers…and now you are in hell trying to figure out how to navigate postflop.

And point 4 is my personal favorite because it goes overlooked so often. If you aren’t 3betting QQ as a default, what does your 3bet range look like? Chances are if you are flatting QQ then you are flatting JJ and TT and AQ, which means you are either 3betting a super nitty range…or you are 3betting a range that has a large density of junk. Sure it strengthens your flatting range…but at what cost?

QQ 3Bet Ranges

What if they will fold a ton?

If flatting sucks, and folding is out of the question…our best option left is to 3bet. But some players will ask the question:

“What if I 3bet and they fold everything but KK+?”

Yes, there are super-nits out there that simply won’t give your 3bet action without KK+. And yes, those players will fold to your 3bet quite often. But shy of that rare breed of super-nit…players would LOVE to give your Queens action with hands like JJ, TT, AK, AQs, and often times many other hands as well.

3betting pocket Queens gets you more value from second-best hands, applies more pressure to your opponents, and makes you a bigger pain in the ass. Yes, sometimes you will 3bet QQ and he’ll fold hands that would have given you some money postflop…but if you are 3betting often and well…he’ll start giving your 3bets action wider and then QQ performs super profitably.

Are there any exceptions?

As with any poker rule, there are exceptions, yes. The major exception where I’d consider flatting QQ is when there is a very aggressive player (or multiple of them) behind me. So by flatting QQ I could look weak, induce a squeeze, and make more money that way. But honestly, in most $1/$2 and $2/$5 games that just isn’t the case. You’re better off just 3betting yourself rather than hoping someone behind you randomly decides to attempt the first bluff squeeze of their life…

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To wrap up, flatting QQ is killing you. You are letting bad things happen at the cheapest cost to your opponents, and you are sooooo much better off just 3betting yourself. This isn’t to say that postflop is always going to be a breeze, nor that you have to stack off preflop if someone 4bets you…but flatting a preflop raise JUST to avoid getting 4bet doesn’t make much sense. If you need work on your postflop strategy in 3bet pots, become a PRO Member and then watch my Simplifying 3Bet Pots video ASAP!

Simple 3Bet Pots

Showing 8 comments
  • Adam

    Where I agree that 3 betting QQ is a strong play. I think in your example of 3 betting an early raiser from mid position is not generally the case.

    Ed Miller has made a strong case for n having no 3 bet range here, unless the raiser or players behind or so loose they call 3 bets with wide ranges… Your hand looks supper strong…you fold out all sorts of hands you dominate behind you…and you often fold out a lot of the original raisers range. You can either raise AA and bluffs (but bluffs with many players behind)

    Sure calling gets you multi way offgten …and sure your only going to win some smaller % of the time or something…but here you have position on the original raiser who has to play straight forward…and hand reading in the multi way pot is going to be supper easy…and you will have much better then your fair share of equity…

    I going to 3 bet squeeze almost always (more dead money) and I’m going to 3 bet all but the nitiest from the button, Cut off and blinds…but second in earlier I think calling is better…

    • Fair. I’d still rather be aggressive and avoid creating a 5-way pot by flatting…but that’s the beauty of poker…there a million different styles to choose from =)

    • Todd

      In the past the mentality was always that you want to bet when you have the best hand. “Protect your hand” was an oft-cited phrase. As the game evolved, and pros got sharper at maximizing EV from dominated hands post-flop, the oft-cited phrase became “keep weaker hands in play”. However, too many players take this to the extreme. You should be HAPPY to make hands like AT, AJ, etc. fold pre-flop when holding QQ!

      Sure, QQ has a hand like AT beat, but does that mean you want to let them in for free? Let’s assume it’s $1/$2 and your opponent raised to $6. There’s $9 in the pot. Let’s compare two options: (a) raise to $15 or (b) flat call. If you raise to $15 and villain folds hands like AT every time, then that’s 100% equity and +$9 EV. If you flat, your equity drops to 67.22%. But that’s 67.22% of $15, of which $6 is yours, so now you’re getting just $4 EV. Sure, you can argue that you’ll extract at least $5 of value from your opponent post-flop.

      How many flops are you going to be able to extract value on? Obviously a T-high rainbow flop would be perfect, but that’s a VERY specific scenario. You’ll probably get a float call on most flops, and Villain will no doubt c-bet on many of them. However, you’re also going to get hosed any time villain flops a set or two pair.

      Clearly if an Ace hits the flop, you’re in trouble and if villain flops a 4-flush instead, they’ve now got 50% equity (which you gave them for free). Are you going to fold your big pair to any bet on an A-high flop? That’s clearly too tight. Villain is more likely to check to you anyway, and are you going to check behind and hope to get to the river for free?

      So there’s not a lot of opportunity to extract value if your opponent misses, and plenty of opportunities for your opponent to trap you. I think I’d prefer the guaranteed $9! Throw in the possibility of players joining in behind, plus the many other advantages you gain from raising, and I think a 3-bet is definitely the way to go!

      If you’re thinking that your opponent is weak and you can extract lots of value from them post-flop, then that’s just another reason to 3-bet: any opponent who is going to pay you off with a hand that can’t beat QQ is probably also not going to fold those hands pre-flop if you 3-bet them, so start extracting value now!

      And if villain does fold hands like AJ, AT, 88-TT, etc, then that shouldn’t upset you either. Instead of thinking of lost value, you should be realizing how incredibly exploitable they are. You could 3-bet every single time they opened and show amazing profit (obviously you wouldn’t do it every time, because you don’t want to be obvious and have them adjust). However, you could really loosen up your 3-bet range against them to great effect!

  • Jeffery Banek

    I was watching your poker video of Common mistakes poker players make #1 (from 2014) its funny because your stance on 3 betting QQ seems to have changed is this due the the every changing meta game in poker or has something else changed your mind on how you approach this hand. Thanks for all the great content.

    • You’re very welcome Jeffery. Yes, my opinion has changed a lot since back then due to the game getting more aggressive, people folding less often vs 3bets, and that people are wiser and won’t let us get away with only 3betting KK+ anymore =)

  • Michael W

    does that mean you are shoving over a 4bet 100% of the time w QQ?

    imo when 3betting w QQ i should be prepared to stack off with them pre.

    i ask because looking into my DB for NL5 SH on stars, ALL my preflop stackoffs w QQ ran into KK/AA/AK. ALL!

    and no, im not a nitty 3better. i have 8-15% depending on all the factors there are. i also squeeze a lot, 4 bet light, etc.

    maybe its just sample size (24k hands). but i also looked at the auto-notes that pt4 takes and none of those opponents ever 4bet lighter then KK+/AK.

    you could say: ok, so you probably made more money from all other 3bets when they folded or called dominated than i lost with all those QQ allins, but its still sick history for my ladies.

  • Jim Cheseborough

    Weird that James didn’t explore what happens when we get 4bet.

    I mean, THAT’S one of the main fears we flatters have!!

    • James Sweeney

      It’s quite possible that I left it wide-open to encourage some self-exploration =)