Have you ever been at a table where it seems like a horrible player is all over you the entire session? Facing donk bet after donk bet can get frustrating over time and can cause you to go on tilt and make major mistakes. If you just face donk bets once in a while, they can catch you off guard and confuse you, leaving you to make an unconfident decision.
You and I both know that good players almost never donk bet, so it’s really hard to get into the mind of a player who does. We’re about to walk through the thought process you should adopt when facing donk bets in future sessions.
Is this player a good player?
Sometimes, a good player might donk bet, especially if you’re playing heads up. There are 2 reasons a decent player might do this:
1. He thinks you have a weak range and likely missed a dry, unconnected flop (or turn). Donking out is a cheap way of trying to steal the pot when the stack sizes aren’t right for a check/raise and fold.
2. He thinks you will either raise or fold, which many players will if they’re the standard tight-aggressive player. He will donk in order to induce a bluff on a wet board that you might check back on, or donk to try to steal on a dry board.
Overall, a good player will be trying to make you uncomfortable. So if you’re normally going to bet when checked to, he’s trying to disrupt that action, which means he is probably weak. If you’re likely not to bet, because it’s a wet board that you’ll only make a continuation bet when you connect in some way, he likely has a good hand and is looking to get money into the pot.
Is this player a bad player?
It’s much more common to see donk bets from bad players. It’s often a main part of their game. The most important thing to realize is that their decision has nothing to do with you. They are solely making the decision based on their hand and the board.
So what does a donk mean? It means different things for different players. The most common mindset is that they have a weak hand that justifies a bet, or that they are scared of a big bet. Some will donk as a pure bluff, but in my experience it is rare.
What should you do? It’s up to you to decide what type of player the fish is. Some will donk, but call any raise. They want to see a cheap showdown, but it’s more important for them to see a showdown at any cost. Against these guys, you want to play your strong hands fast, let go of your weakest hands, and look to draw with usually good odds with the rest.
Other fish will fold if they get raised after making a donk bet the majority of the time. You can start picking away these donk bets and stealing the pots. Be relentless, but don’t do it every time or they may get frustrated and play back unpredictably, or simply stop donking. Of course you can adjust, but it’s much easier to effortlessly pick up the pot once in a while inconspicuously.
That’s all there is to it really. Try to get in your opponents head, like any other decision, break it down, and then disappoint your opponent. Don’t let donk bets frustrate you; be patient, figure them out, and then you’ll have a lot of fun exploiting them.