What is a donk bet?
A lead into the pre-flop raiser. Often it is a small bet, even a min-bet.
Don’t dread the donk.
A lot of players fear the donk bet. But I actually LOVE it when people lead into me.. it often gives me a lot more information than a check does and leads to a lot more profit.
-When a weak player with a high VPIP donk bets, they are usually trying to see the turn card for cheap. Seldom do they have a strong hand. However, it is also unlikely that they will fold to anything but a massive raise.
-When a regular aggressive player leads into you, he can just be mixing it up, and typically either has air or the nuts. Most of the time, strong, aggressive players will polarize their leading range.
-When a tight player leads into you, look out! This is almost always a nut hand “protecting” on a scary board. Unless you have a super strong hand or draw, it is time to fold.
How to deal with donk bets? Let’s break it down by player type.
1. Versus weak players you will be up against a range that consists of middle and bottom pairs, and sometimes top pairs with no kickers, and draws, even gutshots. But since you can almost never get them to fold anything like this, bluff raising does not make a lot of sense. So here is how I play the various parts of my range against these players. Since they are unbalanced, we can be unbalanced as well.
*When we have a strong hand, we raise.
*When we have a medium hand, we raise, since we are still beating most of our opponents range.
*When we have a huge draw.. we raise HUGE and shove any turn. Even donkeys will fold marginal holdings to big raises often enough to make this profitable.
*With air we FOLD! Unless we have enough equity and implied odds to call. But this usually only happens when they minbet. I will call versus minbets with gutshots, backdoor flush draws, and overcards. Everything else I can safely fold as I know that it is most likely behind in equity. In this scenario we are actually reexploiting the fit or fold donk bettor since he would have gotten money out of us if he had checked instead of donking. We get to save the cbet bluff money!
2. Versus aggressive regulars we need to make a decision based on our history with the opponent and his stats, namely the donk bet. If he donk less than 15% of the time, I can safely assume he is almost always doing it when strong and doing anything but playing our hand face up makes little sense. We raise if strong, fold it weak. Since he is only donking a small amount of the time, we can fit or fold our hands and avoid being exploited. However, if he donkbets 20%, or 30% of the time.. then we can deduce that we are against a more polarized range.. he is probably very strong or very weak. Against this range we should take a call call call line with strong made hands, but tend to bluff raise our big draws since they have stable equity against his range. In other words, we know we have outs no matter what he has.. so we raise to use fold equity to get him to fold the parts of his range that are weak… fold equity makes this play hugely profitable. We can also pick and choose some air hands to bluff raise as well. I like to choose something like overcards with backdoor str8 and flush draws, even gutshots. Hands that have some chance to improve on the turn and allow us to shove over a turn bet. I also like to minraise marginal hands like middle pair and try to get to showdown with them. Of course, sometimes we will want to min-raise nut hands like a set as well, to balance the times we do it marginally.
3. Versus really tight players, with donk bets less than 10%, just count your blessings and be glad he just donk bet. Now you can commit and raise with your nut hands, and fold everything else except draws to the nuts. Call one street with draws, since your implied odds are through the roof. And fold all other hands.. including second pair and even top pair mid kicker against certain tighties.
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