It’s always great to look down at your hole cards and see TT, JJ or QQ preflop. Unfortunately, these hands don’t make you invincible – especially in early position. After all, these three hands aren’t like AA or KK, where you can be fairly confident that you’re the favorite when heavy preflop raising and re-raising takes place. All of this being said, you definitely have to put more consideration into playing these hands.
And a lot of this consideration will depend on the stakes you’re playing at, and the opponents you are up against. For example, in the micro stakes you will often run into players who treat 99 like the nuts preflop. So if you know another player is capable of over-playing hands like 99, AT, KQ, you should strongly consider 3-betting and 4-betting these players – although you should be careful in tournament situations where you’re dealing with a finite stack.
When you increase in stakes, most players are less likely to play marginal hands over-aggresively, so you really need to be careful from early position. A good idea is to open with a raise worth 3X or 4X the big blind, and see what kind of action you get from this move. With QQ, you might even consider playing this like the nuts in most situations because there’s only a 1 in 11 chance that somebody else will have AA or KK; of course, if you’re re-raised by an overly-tight player in early-middle or middle position, you need to think about if they have one of the aforementioned two hands.
With JJ and TT, you’re more vulnerable from early position and should proceed with caution. In most cases, you will be looking to hit a set with these hands, but you also have top set potential on a weak board as a fallback. And if you’re in a desperate tournament situation, you can always over-bet with these hands to steal the blinds or a small pot.