Among all the terms used in poker, perhaps "donking" or its Spanish equivalent "donkear" is one of the funniest. It is also one of the most confusing, since it is a qualifier that can accompany a type of bet, but also a type of player. Let's see the difference.
When we talk about the verb "to donk", we refer to the technique of donking, which means to bet badly or to bet at a disadvantage. But be careful, because here the connotations are important.
The qualifier "poor" or "bad" has been accepted to talk about these bets. A donk bet usually refers to a bet made at the wrong time, when it was not due or badly made simply because it was OOP.
But it is also a type of bet to resort to when things get complicated and we want to slow down the pre-flop aggressions. These bets, compared to the pot, are usually very small. They can also serve as a trap, waiting for someone to re-raise, or they can be used to avoid bets that make us lose control of the pot.
That is why it is important to contextualize donk bets, because as a tool for a professional player, they can be a good way to redirect the game despite not having a chance with the cards. In other words: the donk bets can be bad bets, or also a resource for those who have understood that poker can be won not only with the cards.
However, in normal conditions, a donk bet in poker is not advisable because usually almost all opponents will play with position with respect to you, in an aggressive or passive way, and you will not be able to read their game because you will not really know in what position you are with respect to them.
A donk bet is a bet that is made out of position and is either misplaced or used to keep the pot from getting out of hand, or as bait. But don't confuse a donk bet with a donk player. The donk player is a very bad type of poker player.
These are bad players, who always pay your big bets when we link a good play. They are capable of leaving almost their entire stack waiting for a miracle on the river that everyone knows is not going to come. To squeeze them is fine, but for those who are looking for a high-level game they can be a nuisance for showing a crappy game and plays against the grain.
Is a donk the same as a fish? The question is a logical one, since fish are always referred to as the baddest players in poker. The truth is that there is a nuance that differentiates them. A fish is a type of player who mostly makes technical and strategic mistakes that result in an obvious loss of money. For example, they bet when they shouldn't, or pay bets instead of folding.
But donks are different in that they are usually players who do not even have basic notions of poker, and yet they seem to love to burn money and show no interest in training. They are players who often do not even know the most basic rules of poker, and who make huge mistakes as a result of their ignorance.
Now that you know what donk betting in poker is, let's talk about where the habit of donk betting comes from. And for that you have to understand how and when donk bets arise.
Donk in poker has been done since its beginnings don what we call donk bets, plays that were born under the protection of some c-bets that were used excessively.
When they were abused and players, usually in online games, raised many hands preflop in their attempt to steal the blinds to bet on almost any flop. They would almost make a full house, usually in 8 out of 10 flops they would place a bet.
In those situations, the pot grew and it was difficult to have control by playing OOP even when paying. To avoid these abuses in which players raised so many hands preflop indiscriminately, the donk bet was born in poker. And the truth is that it was useful, since it allowed to contain these abusive plays by sending a clear message of "it will not be free to bet so much, because I have something". This began to reduce the expectations of those who wanted to continue with their excessive preflop raises.
But the truth is that, beyond its role as a deterrent, it is not a good bet to try to go for the pot. Good players are not going to re-raise a donk bet with nothing, which makes it useless to win the pot. On top of that, it opens the door to bluffing with high cards, which is not good for you either.
The only context in which a donk bet works is playing against bad players. That is, give them a taste of their own medicine and combine it with a check-raise to confuse them completely. It is a way to make the most of a bet that is not used among high level players, but in unforeseen situations or in the presence of a donk player it can be a good resource.
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