Poker Donkeys – The Bet Donkey

The bet donkey or, for his long description, the bet when he should check and check when he should bet donk is another rife form of donk. In fact, even otherwise good players can on occasion fall into this field of donkology.

Not bluffing when there’s a high probability of success
Some of the biggest donkey players are those who commit a lot of money bluffing or semi-bluffing a hand to the turn and not firing a last barrel at the river. Say you bet a straight draw on the flop and turn with a flush draw on board and your opponent is a straightforward player who more often that not would raise to protect his genuine hands, if the board doesn’t bring that flush on the river then given your opponent and the game texture you should almost always bet the river, anything from about 40 to 70% of the pot size should see you take the pot down enough times to make it a profitable bet in the long run.

Not betting when you have everything to gain from betting and everything to lose by checking

One of the worst plays I saw recently was in one of Pokerstars mtt turbo rebuys. It was at the stage of the tournament when even average stacks were low compared to the blinds. In this one particular 2 shortstacks got all-in – with the biggest shortstack having around 3 big blinds, two loose players also called, one in mid-position and the other on the button, the small blind folded, the big blind with the highest stack of all and relatively high odds to call- elected to call. Flop came A98 rainbow, big-blind checked, so do the two remaining players, turn card is a 2, all players check again, river is a 7, the big blind checks again, mid-position guy bets the rest of his stack, about half the pot, the button folds and big blind calls showing AK and loses to the mid-position player who spiked a 7 on the river to hit a set of sevens. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

a)         The pre-flop play is bad for starters, the guy rightly is not folding with his AK, but at this stage with the blinds so high it doesn’t make sense to just call, he might as well just get all his chips in the middle there and then, it’s perhaps unlikely that he can get one of the other 2 players to fold, but if somehow he does then that’s great, and if he doesn’t well he’s still in a good position, he’s ahead of many of the type of hands his opponents might have such as a weaker ace or KQ.

b)         There is an argument for checking on the flop, if the other opponents are maniacal, but against typical opponents the smarter play is to just bet, his opponents almost definitely are not going to put him on AK and might even think he’s betting something like 9 high, so there is every chance that he gets paid off if one of his opponents has a weak ace or even a high pair like JJ.

c)          If the check on the flop was bad, the check on the turn was downright awful, there’s a big pot out there, you simply don’t give free cards to your opponents without very good reason when that is the case. It’s quite clear that neither of his two remaining opponents are going to bet, the only thing he is achieving by checking is giving them another free card, he simply must bet, yes he probably isn’t going to get called now, but there is a big enough pot there to warrant protection.

d)         And of course then the river where mid-position guy’s gift card comes along courtesy of our donk, again uber weak-tight can’t even bring himself to bet the river, really what the hell was he waiting for all along. Donkey!

Betting or raising on the river when only hands that beat you will call. Bad or lazy players do not make the effort to take into account the circumstances of the situation they are in an instead of thinking what their opponents they have and what their likely responses will be, they instead just think about what their hand is. Such players you will often see betting or raising on the river with mediocre hands, purely because they believe they are ahead, whereas what they are actually doing is putting themselves in a lose-lose scenario. If they are first to act and strongly suspect they are ahead, then a check might induce a bluff from which they can profit from, whereas if they bet their opponent can easily choose to fold their hand. A bet also gives the opportunity for the opponent to raise either with a genuine hand or a bluff, thereby presenting the player with a tricky unwelcome decision where they will probably have to fold. A check in such circumstances is clearly the percentage play