Betting out of position: the power of the donk lead

Betting out of position: the power of the donk lead

Thursday, 23 June 2011

By Paul Zimbler

Making the maximum from your hands is the key to being a winning player. We all know the importance of playing in position, but what about those times when you’re forced to play out of position? How can we turn it to our advantage? Well, sometimes it’s good to bet your hands out of position (some call this a donk lead) because many players smell weakness in this situation and we can actually use it to get the max.

There are of course many times I would advise checking the river to let your opponent bluff, but that is all dependant on the player you’re playing and the texture of the board. If it is clear your opponent was drawing and has missed, for example, then let him hang himself.

Let’s take a look at an example. It’s Level 5 and the blinds are 100-200 with a 25 ante. You’re in the small blind with K-T and there has been a raise from late position to 550 and a call from the button, so you decide to call.

The flop is QsJc4h. You’re first to act and there is just over 2,000 in the pot. You can be sure the button isn’t very strong, as he didn’t re-raise pre-flop, and the raiser could have anything. If possible, try to factor in how aggressively your opponents are likely to play, but, by betting here from the small blind, you may confuse your opponents, which could help you see the turn and river. So, you lead out for something between 750 to 1,000. By doing this, you’ll get some information. Now, let’s assume that the raiser calls and the button folds. The stack sizes are fairly similar and you both have 18,000.

The turn is the 9s. By leading out again semi-weak, a lot of the time (and hand depending) your opponent will read you as weak and raise you. So, leading out again here, even with the nuts, is a good idea to get the maximum.

If you check and he checks with nothing, or even one pair, you aren’t going to get much on the river, since the board isn’t great, and if he still has a draw then he will pay to hit it. So, with about 4k in the pot, betting out here between 1,800 and 2,600 will get you the maximum from your hand, leaving your opponent to either fold, call (in which case you are also likely to get a river value bet called) or raise you, which is of course what we would really like.

Now, if the river is a blank, which it will be most the time, then you can also make a value bet here of between 3,500 and 5,000, or you could go for the all in, which I don’t always suggest. If the bet is too large, most players will fold the river after taking five minutes to think about it, but if it looks like value they will call. They also may even raise you but this is unlikely if they are a good player.

Tags: Strategy, Paul Zimbler