How to Deal With Donk Bets - The Proven Winning Strategy

Poker donk bet
Donk bets can be annoying and confusing especially for a new poker player. How should you react to them? What do they mean?

Well here is the short answer:

A donk bet is a poker bet (often small, half pot or less) that goes against the flow of the action. They are most often used by recreational poker players and they do not indicate a very strong hand. You should typically call or raise a donk bet.

What Do Donk Bets Mean?

What a donk bet really means though depends on the player type. As mentioned, donk bets are usually made by bad players.

With bad players (high VPIP and big separation between VPIP and PFR) donk bets can mean a lot of different things. They can be anything from a draw, bottom pair, middle pair, top pair or a complete airball bluff.

However, most of the time, their range is on the weaker side when they make a donk bet. And what I mean by that is that it is rarely the nuts. They prefer to slowplay extremely strong hands.

With tighter players or regulars though (low VPIP and not much separation between VPIP and PFR) a donk bet will often mean one of two things: a weak overpair/top pair type hand or the nuts. Sometimes it will be a big draw also.

In other words, with regs, a donk bet usually indicates a pretty strong range.

The Best Strategy to Beat Donk Bets

So the best strategy to deal with donk bets is pretty simple then. Most of the time against the fish I am just going to raise them up (or call in position) if I have anything halfway decent or a draw.

Why do I do this?

Because as I said, most of the time they don't have a strong hand themselves. So by raising up their donk bet I am giving myself more ways to win the pot.

Versus the regs I will be a little bit more hesitant to raise them up. This is because as we just discussed, they typically have a stronger range when they make a donk bet.

So versus the regs it is usually a better idea to just call with most of your range. It is ok to mix in a semi-bluff raise sometimes though and you should also be raising with the nuts sometimes as well for balance.

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Check Your HUD First Though

So it is very important to know the player type before you make your decision on how to react versus a donk bet. But if you have actual data on the player, it is always better to check this first.

I will often look at the donk bet stat on my HUD before I act as well. By the way, if you don't know what a HUD is or why it is important, check out this article first where I explain it all.

If their donk bet % is something insanely low of like 10% or less, then I am going to be very careful about raising them up lightly. This is because they have the nuts or a monster draw too often.

In other words, they aren't going anywhere.

If they are donk betting super loose though, 30%+, then I am going to raise them up with a wide range. It should be noted that just calling the donk bet light and outplaying them on the turn or river is a completely fine strategy as well.

Donk Bet Example Hands

So let's look at a few example hands. I am just going to list a bunch of common spots and ask you guys what you would do. I will give my answers later in the comments.

They really are just completely random. I made them up and have no clue what I would do yet. I don't think the stakes really matter. Just assume micro stakes (NL50 or less) and little or no history between you and the opponent.

Example #1

Hero is dealt AK in MP, raises 3x, and gets called by a nit in the SB.

The flop comes,


The nit donks for 1/2 pot.

What should hero do?

Example #2

Hero is dealt 8♣9♣ in LP, raises 3x, and gets called by a fish in the BB.

The flop comes,


The fish donk bets 1/3 pot.

What should hero do?

Example #3

Hero is dealt JT in LP and 3bets an MP TAG opener.

The flop comes,


The TAG donks 3/4 pot.

What should hero do?

Example #4 

Hero is dealt A♠Q in the BB. An SLP (semi-loose passive) limps the SB. Hero raises 4x.

The flop comes,


The SLP donks 1/3 pot.

What should hero do?

Example #5 

Hero is dealt A♠2♠ in LP, raises 3x, and gets called by a nit in the SB.

The flop comes,


The nit donks 1/2 pot.

What should hero do?

Once again I will leave my answers in the comments below. Let me know what you think about these donk bet situations as well.

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poker donk bet


  1. Anonymous23 February

    Hi Nate. Long time no speak. Been following the blog though.
    So here it is:

    1. Hero re-raises 60% of the pot or something of that sort. If villain comes over the top, seriously consider folding.

    2.Call. Take a cheap look at the turn.

    3.Fold. Hero is beat.

    4.Fold. Nothing to do here.

    5.Depends, maybe raise him, see where we are/protect/get value. I hate having to make guesses on later streets+I'm assuming Hero is multitabling.


  2. Anonymous23 February

    Tried to do this quickly as if I was playing so these would be my kinda instant decisions and thought process.

    1)I just call here, theres not much value in raising imo, if I have seen him donk draws then I like a raise but otherwise I probs just call. If we raise we're only being called by TT or 66 imo, as I think he just c/c's weaker Ax

    2) I'm raising here, like 3x fishes donk bet, he could be doing this with all med PP's, maybe some fd's, we have FE from it being a K high flop, and he again prob just c/c's any Kx, and we also have some equity when called with our FD

    3)Close between a call and a fold, but probs leaning more towards Fold>Call. I guess we're trying to make him fold pre with our 3b, which he doesnt, and then leads out, altho this makes me think he doesnt have a big pair, as he prob waits for us to cbet, it does maybe look like a set that doesnt want to give us a free card?

    4)I think we can raise or fold here, the small bets kinda asking to be raised, and we can barrel a lot of cards, i would say its pretty marginal doing anything, probs raise > fold > call.

    5) Flatting this, raising fold out a lot of his hands, just call and try to milk it for all its worth?

    Just some quick thoughts, hope I'm not too far off the mark lol

    Nice post

  3. Thanks for the replies guys. Here are my thoughts (grunching i.e., haven't read anyone else's).

    1) I probably just call here. I think a nit's range is going to be pretty strong with some sets and top pairs. There isn't a flush draw available so that also cuts down on what he can have that we beat.

    2) I think this is probably a good spot to raise. A fish is going to have a pretty wide range here. The king is a card that should be in our range and that maybe we can try to rep (although be careful trying to get too deep versus a non-thinking player like this). So we can win the pot that way and of course have the flush draw and position as a backup.

    3) This is a pretty sick spot to be honest and I am kind of torn. He bets 3/4 which is quite a bit into an already bloated (3bet) pot. I would check his donk bet stats and see how wide he does this. But ultimately I think I would just call here and go from there. We have a backdoor flush draw and a gutter to go along with our top pair. If he bombs the turn and we don't improve I think it's a pretty easy fold.

    4) I just fold here. I know it's a small bet but given that board texture I just think that the fish probably has a piece or a draw and will call a raise a lot of the time. While we do have position we really don't have great equity against that range.

    5) I think I would just raise here. I raise here with air sometimes as well so I need to do it with my nut hands as well. I don't expect him to fold very often as it is so hard to hit this flop. You will often see a nit make this kind of donk bet with a hand like 99 or TT that they decided not to 3bet with preflop. If that is the case there are a lot of broadway cards that could kill our action on the turn or river. I want to get money in now.

  4. I like this topic, and the kid in that pic reminds me of myself at times in the past when confronted with a donk bet... ;)

    There's one other donk bet I've encountered at times recently. When someone min donk bets on the flop, then 3 bets when you raise him. This usually means they're just trying to induce?

    This happened to me right now actually, so it was an easy fold since my AQ completely missed on a JT5 rainbow flop, but interested to know what you'd do if you flop TPTK for example against a 70bb fish and he min donks, you ignore this and make a standard c-bet, then he re-raises you.

  5. Hey Gez,

    Good question. And I know that this sort of thing does happen from time to time at the micros. I think it's usually a pretty strong play but I think they might be overvaluing a top pair type hand from time to time as well. So for 70bb with TPTK I would probably just shove over.

    It depends a little bit on the board though. AK on AQT is a lot different than AK on A92. Little more hesitant on the first board to ship it in. But for 70bb I probably still jam. 100bb, bleh, idk. I think a lot of times when they do that 3bet thing it will be a min raise. So you could just call as well and let them donk the turn and river (usually small bets once again).

  6. Like your blogging style of asking practical strategy questions. Here are my answers:

    1. Raise. Unlikely for him to donk with set or two pairs. It is more likely he have a draw or weaker A.

    2. Raise. Vs fish my default vs donk bet is to raise more often than not especially on a dry heavy K hi board with equity and no SD value.

    3. Call. Cant raise for value and cant raise as a bluff. (dont get value from worst in equity and cant call a reraise)

    4. I think a call or raise is both ok here depending on your read and dynamics with this player. If this is the first time i prefer a raise to see what he does so i know how to adjust vs him later.

    5. Unless I have a read that the nit raise/folds alot. I would raise the flop. He is repping some pocket pair. Also depends how often he 3-bet preflop. The less he 3-bet the higher chance he can have a big PP. You get alot of value if you raise here vs 99+. Most nit are tight preflop but never ever folds over pair, especially on this board.

  7. Love the article, great strategy ideas! I notice sometimes they will donk bet the pot! What is the thinking here? Unless i'm nutted up i normally just fold.