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What's a donk-bet and how can it help your game?

What's a donk-bet and how can it help your game?


The term donk-bet was created recently and has become prominent only during the last ten years or so.

The term is a derivative of the word donkey and implies that making this type of bet is a stupid or a strategically bad one. While the term originally started as a derogatory description of a bad play, poker players now use the term to refer to a specific kind of post-flop bet.

Many players go through large portions of their poker career without ever making donk-bets because of the negative connotations of the term. Historically, only poor players have included these types of bets in their poker strategies.

Does donk-betting deserve its bad reputation? You may be surprised to know that donk-bets sometimes have a crucial role in proper poker play. If you don’t use donk-bets in certain situations, you won’t maximise your win rate.

Here at Bitcasino, we offer an excellent selection of live dealer games in which you can use a donk-betting strategy. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the main situations where considering a donk-bet makes strategic sense.

The definition of a donk-bet

A donk-bet is defined as a post-flop bet made out of position (OOP) by a player who was not the aggressor during the previous street.

Therefore, to make a donk-bet on the flop, the definition implies that you called on the pre-flop. You might have called an open-raise, a 3bet or a 4bet, but the main point is that you did not make the last aggressive move pre-flop. In the case of making a donk-bet on the turn, the implication of the definition is that you closed the flop action by making a call OPP, but you do not necessarily have to be the pre-flop caller.

Traditionally, most players believed that they should check every street to the player who was the previous aggressor, so many players still do not see the benefits of making donk-bets.

Exploitive donk-betting

In situations where you expect to have a high number of continuation bets (c-bets) on a post-flop street, making a donk-bet has little usefulness. If your opponent will almost always c-bet, you could get a check-raise, which has the potential to be more profitable for you.

When you don’t think that your opponent will make c-bets very often, making donk-bets begins to become a valuable exploitative betting strategy. You want to limit your opponent’s ability to check back often and get additional equity. You also don’t want to miss value on your stronger hands, so leading with a donk-bet makes sense.

The other situation where making donk-bets becomes a valuable exploitative betting strategy is when your opponent does not play against donk-bets effectively.

There are several fundamental mistakes that you should look for in your opponent’s behaviour.

  • Folding too often to donk-bets
  • Calling too often against donk-bets
  • Making too-aggressive raises against donk-bets

Folding and calling too often. The ratio of folds to donk-bets should be approximately 40% on each street. If you see that your opponent folds 70% of the time in response to a donk-bet, you should use a bluff-heavy donk-bet strategy on the turn.

Making too-aggressive raises. If your opponent subscribes to the strategy of always raising flop donk-bets, you should take advantage of that by making donk-bets on all your strong hands, with the confidence of knowing that your exploitative betting strategy will result in a flop raise by your opponent. There is no reason why you can’t use a donk-bet to build value.

Game-theory optimal (GTO) donk-betting

GTO has received a lot of attention among poker players recently. The basic concept of GTO analysis is that you can treat and solve playing poker as a mathematical problem. In theory, there is an optimal strategy for each hand of poker that nobody could beat and that a player using a GTO strategy will beat a player who is not using the strategy.

While humans are not computers, it is useful to understand the principles behind GTO and how they apply to donk-bets. If you assume that you could program a computer to play perfect GTO poker, it would be a mistake to completely ignore the possibility that the computer would make donk-bets. Donk-bets are part of real-world poker, and a computer could not play GTO poker unless it included that strategy.

The best way to think about this is to realise that GTO poker is not concerned about which player has the initiative. In other words, it does not matter which player was the aggressor in the previous street and which player was the caller. What matters is the current set-up of each player’s range and other relevant variables, including stack depth.

Usually, if one player has a stronger range, then that player will tend to bet more. If OOP player A’s range is stronger than player B’s range, player A does not want to check through their entire range, as player B can then exploit player A by checking back very frequently, thereby stripping away free equity. Therefore, player A should use a donk-betting strategy on some of their hands to make sure that player B does not have the ability to strongly exploit their checking range. Good GTO players need to include donk-betting as part of their overall poker strategy.


Making a donk-bet can certainly help your game in certain situations. The scenarios in which you should use a donk-betting strategy frequently include the following:

  • Your opponent c-bets passively
  • Your opponent plays poorly against donk-bets
  • You have a range disadvantage

The scenarios in which you should use a donk-betting strategy very infrequently (or not at all) include the following:

  • Your opponent c-bets aggressively
  • Your opponent plays well against donk-bets
  • You have a range advantage

If you wish to hone your skills at playing poker and gain confidence in making donk-bets, then we here at Bitcasino are pleased to provide you with a wide selection of poker games. We are the internet’s premier online Bitcoin casino, so you can rest assured that you will have an outstanding Bitcoin poker experience. Open your player account with us today!

Words: Sean McNulty
Images: Shutterstock


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