Pocket queens are pretty to look at, but can turn ugly with the flip of a board card. A pair of queens is a calling hand before the flop from any position in limit hold’em. And sometimes, but not always, it is a raising hand.
People play ace-anything and king-suited all the time in limit hold’em, so it’s best to be cautious about raising with both pocket queens and pocket jacks pre-flop. You can raise with them when you are the first player to enter the pot. If you get reraised, just call. After you see the flop, you can decide whether to continue with the hand.
What if you’re in late position and a couple of players have just called in front of you? You look down to see the queen of hearts and queen of clubs (Q♥ Q♣). You can still raise the pot, even though you’re not the first one in. Why? It’s to try and get everyone sitting behind you to fold, as well as building the pot.
But suppose you’re in middle position with either Q-Q or J-J and a solid player in seat one raises before the flop, and another player calls the raise before it gets to you. Yuk! One or the other of them might have two aces, two kings, or an A-K. For that reason, just call with your pocket queens or jacks and wait to see what happens on the flop.
Now, let’s say a player in first position raises and a solid player in the second seat reraises before the flop. You’ve been dealt Q-Q in the third seat, with six players yet to act. What do you do? Usually, you should (ugh!) fold. Sure, you’ve picked up a strong hand, but since you don’t have any money invested in a pot that’s been raised and re-raised, it’s easy to just throw them away. Alright, maybe it’s not that easy, but it’s the right play. Why take a chance of losing a ton of chips against such heavy betting when you’ll get a new hand to play in about two minutes?
The factor that determines the value of your pocket queens or jacks is the number of people playing the hand with you. Heads-up, two queens is a huge hand and two jacks is a big hand. But the more players in the pot, the more vulnerable your “mop squeezers” or “hooks” are to their overcard nemesis.