The donk bet is a bit of poker lingo for a specific situation. When we’re on the flop, we usually check to the pre-flop raiser to see what they’re going to do, as if we’re following
a script. However, if we lead out into them, then we’re making a donk bet.
While this usually isn’t a great idea—after all, it’s uncommon for a reason—a good deviation from a regular strategy can be powerful at times. People aren’t expecting it. It can throw them off, make them rethink their hand or their perception of you, and, if you do it right, lead to more chips flowing your way.
Let’s talk about how to make a donk bet!
When You’ve Smashed the Flop
The first time to donk bet is when you’ve absolutely crushed the flop. Let’s say it comes TT2 and you’re holding a hand like T9. You’re holding a set and you want to start building up that pot. Instead of trying to trap people by acting sneaky, remember not to slowplay big hands.
Most hands miss the flop, so it’s likely that your opponent doesn’t have a great hand that they’re willing to bet the flop. Unless you know that they’re an aggressive player who is likely to make a continuation bet, you need to put some chips into the pot to get the action going.
After all, it would be a shame if everyone checked behind and you lost out on getting value out of your big hand.
When You Need More Information
Another good time to donk bet is when you need to do so to figure out where you stand in the hand.
Let’s say you’ve flopped a hand like middle pair. If you check to the pre-flop raiser and they make a continuation bet, you’re probably going to call, but you have no idea where you stand going into the turn. They could be making a standard bluff c-bet, they could have top pair, they might have a draw, or they could have any number of other hands. We just don’t know.
Instead, we can make a small bet to try to get a tell. Since donk bets are unusual, they don’t often go unnoticed. How does your opponent react? Do they light up and get ready to throw more chips in the pot? Or do they seem ready to retreat? They have to fold, call, or raise, and, whatever they do, you’re going to get more information now.
Even if they have you beat, at least you know it now, and you don’t have to risk putting any more chips into the pot on later streets.