Donk Leads – By: John Anhalt  

So you open raise from the cut-off with KcTc in a 6-max or full ring cash game, and a player that you perceive as not very good calls you in the small blind. The flop comes: 3c 8s Qd. The weak player bets 2/3rds of the pot into you. Almost always this means I have a 3, an 8, a small pocket pair, or air. What do I see a lot of students do though? Yep, fold. 

A small raise is going to take down this pot almost always. The board is super dry, there’s no reason to bet into someone if they had a Queen. Now, if your opponent is really really bad, it’s entirely possible that they make a pair and just bet. You of course want to pay attention for this kind of player. There’s also the passive bad trappy player that may have an over pair and is looking to get you to call with a Q or worse. You also don’t want to make this play at the higher small stakes games against competent of good regulars, because they will sometimes lead with top pair or better to induce action. Those are the exceptions in these cases, and not the rule however.

Back to our example, we have a backdoor straight and a high backdoor flush as well, and an over card that might be good. So in situations that we are called, we have a lot of things to our advantage. We’ll have position, and we’ll have a lot of backdoor outs that can connect and scoop a nice pot when our opponents does have a hand. If we pick up a card on the turn that improves our hand, such as a club or a jack, king or ace, we can bet again and apply extra pressure. If not, we can choose to check and hope to hit a ten or King that might be good. The bottom line is that we’re applying pressure to our opponent in position, and taking back the initiative in the hand. 

Same situation as above, but this time the flop comes: 8h 9c Qh. Your opponent donk leads into you for 2/3rds of the pot. Even though you have a gut shot, you should fold. Why? A king likely isn’t a good card for you so you don’t have any solid over card outs, and a ten isn’t a good card for you either. You’re left with a gutshot that doesn’t carry high implied odds, and a back door flush draw. On top of that, it’s highly plausible your opponent is leads with a draw, or some type of combo draw such as 9hTh. It’s not a good texture to raise on because our fold equity is dramatically reduced.. Any board texture that is very draw heavy, and doesn’t provide you with good solid out if you’re called, is not a situation you want to look to pressure your opponents lead bet.

Stay focused on clear dry boards with lots of backdoor outs, and some over card outs. Pay attention to how often your opponent is leading into pre-flop raisers (either by using your hud or your good old fashioned eye balls). Look for ideal opponents who are weak players, but on the more aggressive side of the scale. Use the position you have on your opponent and apply pressure by making them make a decision, take back the initiative and scoop the pot.