While there is no argument that QQ is one of the most powerful starting hands in no limit Texas holdem, it also can be challenging to play correctly. The trademark of a good player is one who can win big pots while losing small ones. What this means is that the best players minimize their losses when they do lose a hand and maximize their profit when they win. QQ is one of the starting hands that separate the winning players and the losing ones.
When you are first to act or the first player who hasn’t limped into the pot, you should raise most of the time. There are two reasons for this. The first is you don’t want anyone to see the flop for cheap, especially hands with an Ace and small kicker. The second reason is that you need to do everything you can to find the strength of your opponents hands. By raising, if one of your opponents re-raises and/or moves all in, you will have a difficult decision to make, but you may be able to get away from the hand if you think your opponent has AA or KK. This is the absolute worst position to be in. In addition, QQ plays best against one or two opponents. You should keep all of your pre flop raises roughly the same to not give away the strength of your hand, usually three or four times the big blind.
Playing QQ after the flop is usually straightforward. If you have shown strength by raising pre flop, continue to show strength until one of your opponents convinces you that they have a better hand. This includes when an Ace hits on the flop. You must bet to represent an Ace in your hand. If you check, you are giving your opponents permission to steal the pot from you, as you will have to fold to a bet. When you bet and an opponent calls or raises, you then must decide if they actually have a better hand or not. In most cases they will have a better hand because you have shown strength two times and they should respect your hand, unless you have been playing too loose.
There are a few situations in which I will check after the flop. They both happen when I am in the hand with an aggressive opponent and I feel I have the best hand. The first is when a Queen hits on the flop giving me trips. By checking, rarely will a free card hurt me if my opponent doesn’t bet and this gives them a chance to bluff off more chips to me. The other situation is when the flop doesn’t have an Ace and appears ragged. My plan when this happens is to move all in when my opponent bets after I check. There is danger in both of these situations, especially the later one. Your opponent may have hit a set, in which case you will be drawing almost dead. However, I have found that the times they can’t beat my hand far outweigh the times they can, so these situations are profitable. The key to both of these is that you must be sure your opponent will take the bait and bet. Giving free cards can be harmful. I do not do this when two cards of the same suit are on the flop unless I did flop a set. When you flop a set, you have many outs to a full house, even against a flush. The other thing is that these plays do not work very well against the best competition. They will respect your hand and will be less likely to bluff at the pot after you check unless you do a great job of acting weak. After showing pre flop strength, this is often difficult.