The Donk Bet Explained
Poker Copilot 4 introduced a new “donk bet” statistic. Guest blogger Brad Lampman explains the donk bet in this article.
What is a Donk Bet?
To make a donk bet, two key things are required. You must be the caller pre-flop or on the previous street, and you must be out of position. The name comes from the fact that fish (or “donks”) tend to donk bet (hence “donk”) often. They will call a hand pre-flop, and if they like the flop, will simply bet instead of checking to the pre-flop raiser. This is generally poor play and tends to tilt regulars who miss their chance to c-bet and take down the pot.
Fortunately for us, we can use the concept of donk betting to create new lines, improving our table image and causing us to be harder to play against post-flop.
Reasons we Donk Bet
- We want to take the betting lead from a weak opponent who is more likely to call than bet when we flop a big hand
- We are multi-way with a strong hand and it is likely to get checked through due to initial raiser having a wide range
- We have a hand that we aren’t happy check/calling or check/raising with against the original raiser in multi-way pot
As a standard, I generally don’t donk bet into an opponent heads up. The only time it is very necessary is against fish when we’re strong, or against regulars when we want to look the opposite of our hand strength. The latter is hard to pull off profitably, so the addition of the “fold to donk bet” stat is required, and must be a large sample to be accurate (5,000+ hands on villain to be sure).
The best concept I have learned on donk betting came from a video on this exact topic by ViniVici9586. It can be found in his video library on LeggoPoker.
The concept he explains in great detail, and with a lot of examples, is that we want to donk a wider range of hands multi-way when the original raiser has a wider range and is more likely to check behind. We can do this with hands that are either A) is strong, or B) has equity on later streets, or C) ahead of the range of the fish in the hand.
This makes it easy to create a donking range, and will also help gain value from the weaker players. We can donk hands like sets, top pair type hands, and an assortment of draws. Since we will be calling more out of position when fish enter the pot behind the original raiser, we can effectively build our range around this wide variety of hands.
The goal of this is to isolate the fish from the regular, as well as give us an opportunity for three full streets of value against the weaker opponent.
In this hand, I flop top set on a monotone board. Since there it is likely to get checked through, and there are a bunch of bad turn cards, I decide to take the betting lead with what is likely the best hand. The fish called, the original raiser raised, I went all in, the fish called behind (with the nut flush draw) and regular folded. I held!
Here we flop TP2K with the 2nd nut flush draw. The original raiser is likely to check back a ton of hands, so I bet to isolate the fish. he folds and I am able to triple barrel for value against the fish (he folded river).
We can also donk bet when we likely have the best hand, but one that can also easily lose showdown value on future streets. Bet when you’re ahead, makes sense right? Here’s an example:
Here we have TP2K after a regular opened UTG, followed by a fish who called out of the small blind. We have position on the fish. By betting, the regular now has to float with overcards to gain any equity. If we check, he may turn an ace or queen, or even a draw. Theoretically, seeing a turn card will almost always diminish our hand’s value in one way or another. By betting we can isolate the fish and give ourself a chance to win a pot with a non-standard hand. In this case, the regular folded, and the fish called. I barrelled the ace turn, and he called again. We checked back the river for showdown value and I won a decent pot against 78 suited!
Hopefully this gives some insight into the concept of donking. The myth that you need to donk a percentage of the time against regulars to be tricky is misleading, and can easily be -EV for a lot of players who do not understand what they are doing in reality. We want to effectively use donk betting when give the reason that it will be more +EV than the other options given to us.