For a long time donk betting was considered something that weaker players would do. They would call preflop, or on the flop or turn, and then lead into the aggressor on the next street.
With the invention and introduction of solvers, we now know that there are situations when it's correct to donk bet on flops, turns and rivers.
In OTB #008 I discussed which turn cards were right to donk bet after check/calling on the flop in a single raised pot.
Today I want to talk about 5 situations where it's right to donk bet on the flop.
Let's dive in...
1. From the BB in a single raised pot OOP
Most of the time when you call a raise in the BB, you should check to the preflop raiser.
They will often have an equity advantage and nut advantage and will always be in position, unless they're in the SB of course.
However, occasionally the equities run close enough and you have enough strong hands where you get to donk bet on the flop.
Here's the DTO OOP aggregate report for 20bb single raised pot, BB vs BTN OOP sorted by highest frequency donk bet:
Notice how it's the low connected boards where you see the most donk betting.
You actually have a slight equity advantage on these boards. For context, there are boards like AK9 where you have just 27% equity.
Not only do you have a slight equity advantage on this flop, you also have a much higher proportion of very strong hands. 7.2% of your range is two pair or better versus only 1.8% for the IP player.
Here's the flop strategy for the OOP player (BB) on the 653r flop:
~76% of your range wants to donk bet (yellow) and that includes ~11% that wants to jam (purple).
When you jam a hand like J4o as a bluff you can get a lot of better hands to fold like AKo or KJo, for example.
When you jam K6o for value you can get called by worse hands like weaker 6x and then some 5x hands too.
When you use a small donk bet the BTN won't fold much, but there are a few hands that start folding like JTo or some suited spade hands that don't have a backdoor flush draw.
However, there are a lot of turn cards that you can bet again when the BTN just calls because they're just so good for your range, forcing the BTN to fold.
In fact, you should only check 100% on an Ace. You can pure bet on a 2, a 4 and a 7 (they complete the obvious straight draws) and do a lot of betting on a 3, a 5 and a 9.
When defending the BB, the flops that you're looking to donk bet are mainly low connected boards and paired boards. But there is also some donking on some low unconnected boards as well.
2. From the SB in a single raised pot
Similarly, when you call preflop from the SB you will mainly check to the preflop aggressor, but there are still some boards where you want to donk bet.
In fact, there is actually more donk betting from the SB than there is from the BB.
Here's the aggregate report for 40bb single raised pots, SB vs BTN OOP sorted by highest frequency donk bet:
Once again you have an equity advantage on these boards.
You also have a higher proportion of strong hands, aka a nut advantage. 17.0% of your range is trips, a full house or quads versus 10.1% for the IP player.
The solver wants you to donk bet a whopping 82.2% of the time here.
When you bet a hand like KT for value you can get called by a lot of worse hands including pairs, 2x, Ace highs, flush draws and backdoor flush draws.
The BTN shouldn't fold too much facing a small donk bet.
However, when you bet a hand like 65s as a bluff you can get a lot of better hands to fold like those without a frontdoor or backdoor flush draw.
This week's action tip:
Identify the situations and boards where you can donk bet and then study them so you how to approach them and how to respond when your opponents donk bet too.
I used DTO Poker Trainer to help highlight the perfect flop donk bet situations. If you want a 10% discount on any of their great training products, use the code "10COACHGAZ".
Disclaimer: If you sign up using my code, I receive a little kickback.
3. As the caller in a 3-bet pot OOP
In 3-bet pots there are also situations where you will want to donk bet the flop.
Here's the aggregate report for 50bb 3-bet pots, LJ vs BTN OOP sorted by highest frequency donk bet:
Once again you have a slight equity advantage, but you also have a higher proportion of very strong hands. 8.4% of your range is two pair or sets versus 2.9% for the BTN.
Even though they have a much higher overpair advantage (you don't have any!), you have a much higher proportion of top pair hands (23.0% vs 9.7%).
This means you can donk bet 76.52% of the time.
When you value bet a hand like KQ you can get a lot of worse hands to call like weaker Qx, underpairs, A7s and K6s.
When you bluff a hand like Th9h you can get some better hands like Ace highs with no backdoor flush draw to fold.
Once again, more equity and a higher proportion of strong hands? Consider donk betting.
4. As the SB after limp/calling vs the BB preflop
You also get to donk bet when you have limp/called preflop from the small blind against the big blind.
Here's the aggregate report for 30bb limp, raise/call, SB vs BB OOP sorted by highest frequency donk bet:
Again, you're looking for boards where you have an equity and nut advantage.
On this board, 13.6% of your range is two pair, sets or straights versus only 6.1% for the IP player.
You get to donk bet almost half of the time here.
When you value bet a hand like QJ you can get called by a lot of worse hands including Tx, 9x, 8x, flush draws, straight draws and even some Ace highs.
When you semi-bluff a hand like 7h4h can get a lot of better hands like Ace highs to fold while still being able to improve or bluff your opponent off a better hand on future streets.
5: Multiway from the SB
Let's say the LJ opens, you call in the SB and the BB also calls.
On this 732fd board you get to donk bet as well.
This situation is interesting because the equities are split three ways, rather than two.
You don't have an equity advantage here (34.2% vs 30.0% for the BB and 35.8% for the LJ), but you do have a nut advantage.
Two pair and sets make up 5.1% of your range, compared with 1.8% for the BB and just 0.9% for the LJ.
When you bluff this spot you're aiming to get a lot of high card hands without a heart to fold.
When you value bet you can get called by a lot of worse hands.
Here's the flop strategy for you in the SB:
Even though donk bets are only used occasionally, it's still important that you know and understand when to use them. It's also useful to know the spots where you might face a donk bet and not just label your opponent as a donkey or weaker player when they do it.
Of course, if they still do it on boards that are great for you and really bad for them, you should still label them as a weaker player.
To recap, here's a breakdown of the 5 spots where you can donk bet when you have an equity and/or nut advantage:
BB in a single raised pot OOP
SB in a single raised pot
OOP in a 3-bet pot as the preflop caller
SB in a limp/call spot BvB
SB multiway in a single raised pot
Whenever you're ready, here's how I can help you:
Train & Play Like The Pros: Join the next cohort of my flagship program that will take you from amateur to training and playing like the pros in the next 8 weeks. There are only 12 spots for each cohort, and when they're gone, they're gone and I close enrolment until the next one.
The Final Table Book: Play your best poker when the most is at stake. Detailed analysis of over 100 hand examples at different stages of play. Learn how to make great decisions every time and set yourself up for daily progress.