Donk bet: what it is, when to make it and how to avoid it

A donk bet is associated in the game to a wrong bet, or made at the wrong time or when the play is already in another phase. It is associated to bad or nit players, who barely have the basic knowledge of poker. This compromises the game if there are players of higher level, since they will see the proper development of the game interrupted because of the low level of the donk.

In Spanish, these players are colloquially called donkeys. A donkey is not the same as a fish. Fish are novices who have not yet had time to learn. A donkey is a bad player, who does not want to improve and who joins tables to play as he sees fit.

What is a donk bet in poker?

A donk bet in poker is a bad bet, made out of position or without any initiative. Sometimes it is also known as a nit bet, a bet coming from a nit player, that is, someone who does not know how to play. Normally, donk or nit players play poorly in all types of games, without any criteria and without desire or interest to improve their low level.

That pushes them to play badly over and over again, making their decisions mostly wrong, their bets are poorly made and their game constantly based on decisions made OOP (out of position) goes nowhere.

It is very easy to identify a bad bet, but knowing what implications a donk bet has in poker and what it really means for the other participants is a bit more complex.

To begin with, we are talking about bad bets. That means that the person making the bet does not really know what situation he is in. That makes him weak. And someone who is weak is easier to beat. Normally, the bets of these nit players do not put the rest in trouble, but it can happen that an ill-timed bet ruins the pace that suits you, either to put pressure on an opponent, or to build the perfect environment for a bluff.

How to deal with a donk bet

It is difficult to know how to act in the face of donk bets that come out of nowhere and that we have not seen coming. The worst ones are the first ones, when we don’t know the player. It is easy to elucidate the level of a player by his gestures, his first decisions and other indicators, but nothing can foretell that a donk bet is going to break the rhythm of the game.

The best thing to do when a donk bet comes out is to start studying the rest of the players. It is essential to get to know the players who know how to play in order to study their reactions, to see to what extent they reflect how upset they are and what their first reaction to that donk bet is.

Is there any point in doing this analysis? Evidently, yes, but if we look at the long term. Because, at the outset, it is most likely that this nit bet will neither harm nor benefit us. But there are very valuable data that we can use later on to make better and well-founded decisions, besides being able to use that information to arrive at the showdown with a greater background.

When to make a donk bet

In some cases, it is possible to make this type of bet on purpose, as a bluff, but you have to control the timing to get it right. When is it possible to make a donk bet on purpose, and what should we master to make it a success?

The basic thing is to control the tells. It is not only about hiding our true intentions, but also about subtly and very delicately misleading our opponents. We can do that thanks to a donk bet made with conscience, but be careful. Sometimes we will have to decide between acting before the round (by folding), or go ahead with the donk bet.

The answer to this dilemma will depend, to a large extent, on the level of the player. Because the dichotomy of acting vs. donk bet is based on the skill of the player. A high-level player can go ahead with a nit bet by making a textbook bluff. On the other hand, a player who does not dare with a bluff may simply let the option to throw a donk bet to avoid complicating the game.

So, when can we make a donk bet? When we want to mislead and we have the ability to do so. Otherwise, it will be very risky to try to mislead the opponents with a bet made out of time, position and rhythm. And you can be seen if you try to do it in a very crude way, becoming annoying if it is not done well and you look like a real donk.

Donk bet: what it is, when to make it and how to avoid it