Chapter 5: Donk Bets
What is a “donk bet”?
The standard postflop action in poker is for the out-of-position preflop caller to check 100% of the range of hands to the preflop raiser. A donk bet occurs when the out-of-position preflop caller leads out on the flop before the preflop raiser has a chance to make a continuation bet.
Donk betting is only relevant in heads-up pots between a single preflop caller and a single preflop raiser. In a multiway pot, raising out of position is called a “lead” and is generally a strong holding.
A donk bet on the turn or river occurs when the preflop raiser has made a continuation bet on the previous street, and the preflop caller decides to lead the turn or river. Donk betting on the turn and river can be a strong play for advanced players on specific boards, but donk betting on the flop is almost always a mistake.
Why donk betting has a negative image
Donk betting has a negative image because it makes you easy to exploit. Donk betting creates an imbalance in your checking range that even weaker players are going to pick up on.
Having balanced ranges means that you are difficult to predict. If you are donk betting any pair and better on the flop, for example, players can exploit you by folding their weak hands, raising a value range, and calling their draws. When you check, your opponent knows that you have a weak hand and can bluff very profitably.
Players sometimes become frustrated by donk bets. If you do not understand why your opponent is donk betting, you will be put into situations where you feel lost.
When you face a donk bet, never act instantly. Breathe, think, and plan.
How to respond to a donk bet
Do not get frustrated by players who donk bet. Be happy that they are playing incorrectly against you. Donk betting is almost certainly a poor play, and one you can exploit.
Facing the “min donk”
One common donk betting strategy is the “min donk,” which is when a player donk bets one big blind. You can usually treat this as a check, simply calling all hands you would check and continuation betting normally. However, you need to take notes on the range of hands your opponent does this with, and on the response to your continuation bets after min-donking compared to checking. If you get a read that your opponent is folding 90% to cbets after min-donking, you can bet your entire range!
Donk betting poker statistics
The two most important poker statistics in Poker Copilot for dealing with donk bets on the flop are “donk bet on flop” and “folded to continuation bet on flop.” These two statistics combined will give you a clearer view of your opponent’s donk betting strategy.
Be careful using these statistics before you have at least 100 hands. It takes nearly 1,000 hands for a strong sample size.
Players with donk bet and fold to cbet adding to 100%
The easiest opponents to play against are those who have a “donk bet on flop” and “folded to continuation bet on flop” that add up to roughly 100%. For example, a player may have a donk bet of 30% and a fold to cbet on flop of 70%. In this case, it is not difficult to see that in general your opponent is donking almost all the hands they are willing to continue with and check folding the rest of their range.
Playing against such players is very simple. When they check, you can bet and expect them to fold. This leads to very profitable bluffing and semi-bluffing opportunities.
When your opponents donk bet, they are telling you that they want to continue in the hand. You can generally call with your medium-strength made hands and strong draws, and re-raise for value.
How do you interpret donk betting poker stats?
This range is almost completely value. Unless your opponent has an extremely high “called preflop raise” percentage, even holdings such as top pair, top kicker are likely to be in trouble. The higher the VPIP, the weaker the player’s range is in total, including the donk betting range. You may find that opponents you identify as strong players have a donk percentage within this range. Many thinking players at the lower stakes cannot resist donk betting hands like “sets” on boards that contain flush and straight draws. These players understand that they have a strong hand, but are scared that their hand will lose to a flush draw that completes on the turn if they allow you to check your hand. On your part, you should be trying to understand the rationale of your opponents. Why are they donk betting instead of check-calling or check-raising?
This range is also almost entirely value. Proceed with caution. Your opponents might also donk bet their strongest draws. Take a note of the weakest hand you have seen them donk bet, and of whether you see them donk bet flush draws and straight draws, or only made hands, such as pairs or two pairs.
This donk range is starting to widen up. While your opponents are most likely donk betting some strong hands, they are also likely to have a lot of bluffs in their range. Players with this range of donk bets often have a fold to continuation bet on flop that correlates. For example, they may have a donk bet percentage of 30% and a fold to continuation bet on flop of 70%.
You should be getting very suspicious of opponents with this range. They are very likely to be donking a weak range of hands along with some value.
This is getting ridiculous. An opponent with this range has zero respect for your range of hands, and is donk betting a silly amount. This player is most likely here to gamble!
When to donk bet
The easiest player to exploit by donk betting is one who is not betting very often, but is calling too much. They may have a 35% or less flop cbet statistic, but very high calling stats, and a “went to showdown” of 30% and higher. This is a passive player. Against such players, you can donk bet a strong range of hands for value, as they are likely to check even strong hands like top pair, third kicker (JQ on a board of J45, for example). When you have a hand like KJ, you may need to start using donk bets in order to get three streets of value from their holdings that they prefer to check-call rather than bet themselves.
Make sure that you do not implement a donk strategy until you have strong reads on your opponent and a very good reason to do so.