For those of you that are not familiar with what donk betting is in no limit Texas hold’em then I will explain. A donk bet is simply a bet into the pre-flop raiser. For example let us say that it was folded around to the button that raised to 3.5bb and the big blind called. The flop came J-10-4 and the big blind bet into the raiser…….this bet is called donking.
A “donk” in no limit Texas hold’em is often a name for a weak player or fish but in this instance it means something else. Here it means leading into the pre-flop raiser. The reasons behind why this move is popular are obvious. Firstly the big blind in this instance knows or at least strongly suspects that the raiser is stealing. So they look to take the pot away from them by placing the onus back on them to connect with the board. So instead of three betting pre-flop they elect to call with the intention of betting the flop.
When done at a very basic level in no limit Texas hold’em then donking doesn’t really make any sense. It is a bet that is designed to represent a hand but it seems counter-productive to make such a move with either a strong holding or a fair holding. If you check then your opponent will almost certainly bet and so you capture at least one bet with the best hand. If you donk then your opponent could simply fold. So you would at least check-call or check-raise with a powerful holding.
Many players in no limit Texas hold’em will go into what is called pot control. Players tend to do this with mediocre or marginal hands that may be best but may well not be. Mediocre made hands serve as very good bluff catchers and so once again it is better to check-call with marginal hands. So in both cases then the donk lead makes little sense.
The simple response to the donk lead is to simply raise. This is especially the case if your poker hand has any sort of equity. The combination of pot equity and fold equity will prove profitable over the long term. Some players even go as far as to raise 100% of donk bets. However even against moderately thinking opponents then these players will play back in no limit Texas hold’em eventually.
As your opponents reach a higher level of sophistication then so do their strategies to defeat you in no limit Texas hold’em. So if your opponent believes that you would raise donks then some of them will adjust by leading out with their value hands or three betting you with their lesser holdings. So in no way should donking be automatically labelled as weak. However if you encounter this tactic at low stakes games then it is a weak move to wrestle the initiative more often than not. If you can figure out why your opponents are donking in no limit Teas hold’em then you will find more profitable spots.