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StrategyWeekly No Limit

Donk Bets (2) - Theory II


In the first part of this series, you were introduced to the theory behind donk bets. In this part, we will continue this introduction and have a look at other theoretical aspects.

There are many different spots which can get you into such a situation. Today you will learn ways that will help you master it.

Preflop aggression: Why not make a 3-bet?

We are currently still analysing heads-up situations. And this is where you have to ask yourself: How did you end up in this situation in the first place?

In a raised pot, the only possibility is that you cold called from the blinds. This is the only way for you to play out of position without the initiative. In a 3-bet pot, you might very well only call a 3-bet after an open-raise from early position. We will come back to this situation later.

The basic question you have to ask yourself is: Can donk bets become a regular part of my long-term game?

The most important thing about your game is that you have a good plan at hand for many different situations. If you 3-bet, how do you continue postflop? If you only call, how do you play the flop? If you donk bet on the flop, how do you proceed on the turn?

If you generally plan to integrate donk bets into your game, you have to prefer the line call preflop / donk bet flop to the line 3-bet preflop when you are up against certain opponent types.

In the end, you are playing aggressively to try and win the pot or to extract value. But why not already do so preflop?

The following example illustrates this fundamental problem:


PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
MP ($25)
CO ($25)
UTG ($25) (Rock)
Hero ($25)
SB ($25)
BU ($25)

Preflop: Hero is BB with A , A
UTG raises $1.00, 4 folds, Hero calls $1.00

Flop: ($2.10) 6, 6, T (2 players)
Hero bets $1.40, ...

This example gives you the opportunity to have a closer look at all the relevant questions: Preflop, you could have easily made a 3-bet, but didn't because you didn't want to drive any weaker hand out of the pot. In general, this is not a good play; however we are intentionally examining the best hand, AA. With hands such as QQ/JJ-, there are more even reasons that speak against a 3-bet preflop, clearly making a call the better choice.

If you decide to slow play your hand before the flop, why would you donk the flop? Do you see your opponent call so many weaker hands now, while he rarely actively bets with weaker hands? Although you want to keep his range open preflop, you confront him with a donk bet on the flop.

Would it not have made more sense to check the flop here?

You definitely have to think about these things. Just keep in mind: You want to avoid heads-up situations out of position as much as you can (especially when they are not necessary, although of course it can make sense with many hands to only call in the blinds).


That's not the entire article...

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Comments (2)

#1 Rakijan, 03 Feb 11 16:11

Example 2, why donk bet? what are we afraid of? I would slowplay it to the river, hoping somebody would pick up a card :) It is multiway pot so there is no problem of inflating the pot with two calling stations ...

#2 valancius, 11 Mar 11 12:21

#1 "This is pure value play, there is nothing you have to protect.", although i think that your alternative choice to slow-play has some advantages: to give some piece of board to opponents so they good pay you off, but you also have disadvantages: you lose opportunity to build pot on the flop and after checking flop you'll have only 2 streets left and if you would like to try go all in on river your bets would be very large and may scare your opponents.