What is a “Donk” Bet and When Should You Place One?

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BetMGM Jul 16, 2022, 3:12 AM

As most online poker players know, the key to success is keeping your opponents guessing. This means constantly changing up your strategy, trying new things and learning from the outcome of each game that you play. If you spend time studying the ins and outs of the best online poker strategies (and the worst,) you’ll probably have come across the term “donk” betting and wondered if it’s something that you should be paying more attention to.

But what is “donk” betting? Is it a must? If so, where is “donk” betting’s place in your unique strategy? Read on for answers.

What is a “donk?”

First, let’s delve deeper into why the type of bet in question is called a “donk” bet. The term “donk” is a derogatory way of referring to an inexperienced or “bad” player – usually one who doesn’t have a complete grasp on the rules of the game. It’s slightly different from, and more offensive than, the more commonly heard term “fish,” which is used to refer to someone who’s simply new to the gambling world but working hard to improve their skills.

The term “donk” derives from the word “donkey.” Donkeys are known to be stubborn and relatively thoughtless – qualities that most well-versed poker players believe inexperienced, yet audacious players have, too.

What is a “donk” bet?

A “donk” bet is usually a small, leading bet made by the non-aggressor in the hand. It is always made by the player who’s out of position (betting first,) post-flop. So, for example, a player raises just before the flop, causing another player to “call” to defend the big blind. Following the flop, the player in the big blind leads with a bet, and this is called a “donk” bet.

Because this type of bet is named after the sort of player highlighted above (the sort of player that nobody strives to be!) it’s easy to assume that it revolves around a betting strategy that good poker players should be avoiding. But it isn’t quite that simple.

Is a “donk” bet an acceptable part of a good poker strategy?

Back in the day, the answer would be “no.” Ultimately, as explained above, this type of betting is unconventional and usually employed by inexperienced players who don’t understand how important position is when making a leading bet. But, in modern times, many of the world’s most respected poker pros employ “donk” betting occasionally in their play. That’s the secret, though: to use the approach very rarely (maybe 1 or 2% of the time) to confuse your opponents and keep them on their toes.

When is the right time to place a “donk” bet?

As German poker pro Dominik Nitsche explains, while it’s still somewhat controversial in professional poker, “donk” betting can be a favorable play in certain instances, such as placing the leading bet when a card is dealt that favors your range.

It’s also considered an acceptable play when put to work in low to middling dynamic flop textures (where there are lots of turn cards that have the potential to alter equity distribution) to stop an opponent from taking a free card. Of course, it also makes it possible for you to name your price when it comes to your vulnerable hands and draws.

Having said that, most experienced players insist that it’s better to never “donk” at all rather than to try it and execute it incorrectly.

Is “donk” betting necessary for poker success?

Definitely not. There are countless professionals out there who have managed to accumulate great success without “donk” betting even once. But if it is something you’d like to incorporate to prevent becoming too predictable in your gameplay, then feel free to experiment and see if it works for you. Keep in mind, of course, that it’s extremely difficult to get right!

What does “donk” betting teach us?

“Donk” betting essentially reminds us of the importance of position in poker, regardless of whether you’re playing in-person at a land-based casino or online. It’s not just about the cards that you (or your opponents) are dealt or the strategy you’re implementing. At the end of the day, you can’t “donk” when you’re “in” position, which is when the vast majority of reputable players play most of their hands.

In short, if you’re looking to optimize your poker skills and strategy, it’s going to be much more worthwhile doing more research into poker positions and using them to your advantage than to research how to execute fool-proof “donk” betting! So, study up. You’ll be glad you did.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.