Poker strategy tips to try at home: The Donk Bet

Confuse your opponents with this unorthodox move

Generally in poker you check to the original raiser when you are first to act on the op. This allows you to see what everyone else does before considering whether you wish to continue with the hand. However, there is an alternative: the ‘donk bet’. In this scenario, instead of making a standard check, you bet out into your opponent(s).

Donk-betting was long considered to be a losing proposition: a weak play, typically associated with bad players. Its detractors argue that you lose value by donk-betting, as the pre op aggressor will often continue betting (and bluf ng) if you check. But many top poker players have now incorporated the donk bet into their repertoire. It can be used to confuse opponents, and, because it is often perceived as a weak play, it may induce villains to commit further chips with a weaker hand.

As with all unorthodox plays, of course, the donk bet must be used sparingly. You should generally only deploy this move when you have a made but vulnerable hand, such as top pair, or a decent draw. You can then build the pot or potentially take it down without actually making your hand.

The set-up

  • You are out of position and have called a pre op raise.
  • The fop has hit you in some way, preferably making you a solid made hand or a big draw.
  • The raiser is loose- aggressive and not likely to give your donk bet much respect; they are capable of making a move on you

In action

  • On the op or a later street, make the first bet rather than checking
  • Only donk-bet with a hand that can stand a raise or is worthy of three-betting or committing your stack with
  • Get your bet-sizing right. A bet that’s too small may price in an opponent or allow them to confidently oat your lead
  • Be prepared to slow down on later streets if your hand does not improve further or if a scare card hits

The donk bet in action

Amateur Bill Klein uses the donk bet to rep a monster against Phil Galfond on High Stakes Poker. Fist bumps all round..


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