The world's leading poker book publisher

Playing Against Donk Bets

28/11/2019 by Alexander Fitzgerald
Strategy
D&B MAGAZINE

Imagine this hand:

You are in the WSOP Main Event. It’s folded to you on the button. You look down at K5. It’s early in the tournament. You have more than 100 big blinds.

It’s not a terrific hand, but you decide to raise on the button. The small blind folds. The big blind is a younger guy. He can handle the chips well. He’s steadily built his stack over the last couple of hours. He calls.

The flop comes K67.

You prepare for him to check so you can continuation bet, but instead he surprises you. He donk leads 65% of the pot! You look down at your hand. It’s still K5. What do you do?

Let me ask you another question. What would you do here with A2? In my opinion, you should raise with the K5 and you should fold the A2.

In the old days, people referred to this post flop bet into the raiser as a “donk bet” or a “donk lead.” The play was given this name because it was done primarily by bad players. They would miss the flop with say A-10 in this instance, and then they would lead out to stop you from continuation betting. The only problem was eventually people started asking some fairly basic questions: “If he had such a big hand why would he be leading into me? I raised preflop. Wouldn’t he want me to continuation bet?” For this reason, people started raising donk bets as a bluff. They would raise them constantly and pick up pots left and right. Soon, even bad players learned not to donk bet with their bad hands.

Over the past few years, donk leading has made a bit of a comeback. Some players, myself included, will lead sets on this board, 9-8, club draws, and some great K-X combinations that can be triple barreled. Occasionally, an outright bluff will be thrown in, but you’ll notice most of the range is fairly strong. This donk betting range is fun to employ versus low-to-mid stakes players who don’t know what to make of it.

However, many guys didn’t get the memo that this is supposed to be a more blended range. They tend to just donk lead with hands they don’t want to check/call with. That tends to be 9-8 and flush draws.You will see many guys in Vegas who just donk lead their 9-8, 5-4, and flush draw combinations there. They’ll do it because if they check/call and hit their draw they’re unsure of how to get value. If they lead, it looks obvious as to what they have. If they check, most people will check behind. So, instead, they donk lead, and they hope that you’ll call and cap your range, so they’ll know to keep barreling if scary cards come in. Disappoint them. Raise for value. Bet the turn. Many of them will keep calling.