Aces Full of It: Making the Donkey Walk I

It’s simple mathematics!

The word “donk” has long been the number one go-to appellation for a certain kind of poker player: the bad kind.  No one wants to be one, many aren’t actually aware they are one.  Some throw around the term in the manner of an internet troll in online table chat, indiscriminately or perhaps using the term more to insult good players than actual bad ones, the bad ones often including said troll.

In recent days, some concerns have been raised that with the amount of information available about how to properly play this game and how easy it is to access, it has become prohibitively more difficult for anyone to make a real profit at poker.  For cash games, I really don’t see what they’re getting worked up about.  If you make plays with positive expected value, you’ll make a profit right?

The Fish Are Out There

If I really am full of it in any area of poker, it’s cash games, so don’t bother correcting me if I’m wrong here unless you’re willing to truly educate me on that area (which would be really amazing if any of you out there were actually patient enough to do that.)  But even setting that aside, for anything that there is information for, there is misinformation for.

If my admittedly limited live play experience is any indication, those players in the know have taken it as their civic duty to spread misinformation about optimal play like wildfire.  At the last tournament I was in, a woman directly on my left seemed to pretty much know what she was doing, but at any point, and there were a few, that her table talk even vaguely resembled advice, it was invariably bad advice.  I salute her as a true poker patriot.

The biggest reason for my confidence that there’s still plenty of bad players to take money from out there, though, is that I’ve seen them.  I can’t speak for anything above low stakes or of course cash games, but in low stakes/micro stakes tournaments online, trust me–there’s plenty. To do my part to end the misconception, I’m going to share my wisdom on how to exploit the many different weaknesses that you still can encounter in a segment I’d like to call Making the Donkey Walk.

Don’t let this be you…on second thought, do. Do chase the carrot. Yummy, yummy carrot.

Donkus Anytwous: The “loose passive” Donk

No two donks are alike, but I have found that there are a few distinct patterns of behavior that I run into again and again.  In each Making the Donkey Walk, I will be covering one of those patterns.  Today, I’d like to go over the behavior I see in most loose passive players, that I have scientifically named the Donkus Anytwous species of bad poker player, but are also commonly referred to as “calling stations.”

Disclaimer: “Donkus Anytwous” is not actually a scientific name.

The Donkus Anytwous is the most commonly found Donk today according to my exhaustive scientific study (and by exhaustive scientific study, I mean it seems like I run into more of them at any low or micro stakes tournament than any other type of bad player.)

It is possible therefore that there may be perceptual bias because of all the types, the Donkus Anytwous is the second most conspicuous type to identify.  They are characterized by a propensity to call virtually any bet in the preflop stage of a hand with cards that do not in any way preclude such behavior from the perspective of a sensible player.

Whether there has been a raise prior to the action coming to them is largely immaterial, or even the size of the raise–if a Donkus Anytwous is going to play a hand, then God and Lady Luck as their witnesses, they’re going to play that hand!

However, many examples of this Donk species do in fact have cards that they won’t actually call with.  Even if their folding range is just the bottom 10% of all starting hands, it is extremely rare to find one that sees literally every flop.

How to exploit the Donkus Anytwous

The first thing anyone who wishes to capitalize on the existence of the Donkus Anytwous must keep in mind that despite their behavior preflop, they tend to behave at least somewhat sensibly after the flop comes down.

It is very rare in my experience to find a calling station that will not fold to a continuation bet when they have a hand with no pairs and no draws.  That having been said, many of them do tend to come along postflop with just about any made hand, and usually with draws as well.

The formula for their exploitation is pretty simple to work out, with this in mind.  A bet on the flop will determine most times if they have anything to work with at all.  If they fold, great, you won the hand.  If they call, most likely they have a draw, small pair or could have a top pair.

If the turn does not complete any draws, it then becomes possible to force out draws, but if they call a second time, they nearly always have a made hand save for the loosest examples of the type.

In that event, you can bank on them not folding after the river most of the time as well, so depending on what hand you have, either stop adding chips to the pot, or if you have  a hand like 2 pair or a set, give the river bet as much steam as you think he’ll come along with.

In low and micro stakes tournaments, many times you can actually go all in at this point with a set and they’ll come along with as little as 2nd to top pair.


That’s my approach to dealing with the loose-passive players I run into.  If your experience is different, please don’t hesitate to share, especially if you play in the games that I don’t or can’t (cash games, higher stakes tournaments.)  The Making the Donkey Walk posts will be interspersed throughout my normal opinion columns when I feel like it, so please don’t ask when the next one will be.  Till next time!

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