Exploiting Fish: Donkbets lines

Ignacio Kignard
27 Feb 2024
Holdem Strategy
27 Feb 2024

We know that most of our winrate as poker players comes from recreational players, known primarily as “fish”. So it’s necessary to properly adapt our strategy against them in order to get maximum value and win as many big blinds as possible.

How do we identify a fish at the poker tables?

This kind of players share common things and playstyles, such as:

  • Limping (not raising preflop). This is the most common leak from weak players: call the minimun preflop bet (1bb or comple 0.5bb when they’re on Small Blind).

  • High gap between VPIP and PFR, usually more than 8 makes the player unbalanced between his calling and raising range.

  • Calling too much against bets both preflop and postflop. Because they want to see a lot a flops and see the next street for hitting, even when the pot odds are quite bad.
  • Donkbetting: Recreational players like to bet out of position when they’re not the aggressor in the hand. I am going to deepen these lines in this article in order to explore the fish behavior, tendencies and how we can adapt for exploitation purposes.

Exploring different donkbet lines using Multiple Player Reports

Let’s see how the fish generally performs in donkbetting. For this I’ll use the Smart Research Popup package, a complete set of very useful popups for deep database analysis.

To do this, I created a new report in Statistics tab > Multiple Players and put different parameters in Base Stats. As you can see in the image below, I wanted to filter players with:

  • 500 hands or more.
  • +20 VPIP and any PFR.
  • VPIP-PFR gap of +11.

So in this way Hand2Note will gather all players that match these parameters and create an alias showing all statistics ready to start studying!

Once the report is ready, Hand2Note will show up the results on the popups. Let’s explore how the recreationals plays as callers OOP in single raised pots:

We have a ton of stats here, but we’ll focus only on the most common donkbet lines using postflop histograms and more useful statistics in extended popups, such as range composition, percentage of weak hands and sizes.

Overall Flop Donkbet Stat

By clicking on the overall donkbet flop stat, an extended pop-up window will appear on the right and show many interesting and useful statistics:

As we can see, overall fish is donkbetting 14% with 47% of weak hands in this spot! We can also see showdown stats, next actions and range composition. This may seem a little bit obvious, but let's move on to other donkbet lines on the river.

Triple Donkbet (Donk Flop + Donk Turn + Donk River)

We open raise and a fish calls out of position, then he donkbets all streets.

When the fish takes this line, the range will contain approximately 37% of weak hands (10% less than the donkbet on the flop). We can also click on the Bet Sizing tab and see its sizing tendencies:

Now this is starting to get more interesting. There are significant changes in the range composition depending on the size, so based on this we conclude that:

  • The most used sizing in this line is 40-60% pot (35% of weak hands).
  • Overbet sizings are less frequent (28% of weak hands).

💡 The smaller the size, the higher the % of weak hands and bluffs. The larger the size, the stronger the range and less weak hands.

Whenever you face this line and the fish barrels the river, pay attention to the size. Keeping this in mind will make your bluff-catchings on the river much easier.

XC-XC-DB (Check-Call Flop + Check-Call Turn + Donk River)

This is another common line the fish usually takes, calls two barrels and donks the river. It contains a different outcome for his range composition:

At the first impression, this line is more underbluffed than Triple-Donkbet because it contains 7% less of weak hands. We can interpret this because the player calls seeking for draws or just improve his hand, otherwise he’ll check call or check fold. How about the sizings in this line?

The pattern is almost the same as the 3-Donkbet line: High sizings contains stronger hands and sizings <80% contains +30% of weak hands.

XC-DB-DB (Check Call + Donkbet + Donkbet)

Fish calls the flop, donks the turn and donks the river. This is the last common line we’ll explore and surprisingly it is the more interesting one:

Notice how this line is way overbluffed than the other two, containing 42% of weak hands. A ton of bluffs! This whole line has 51% of Went to Showdown (WTSD) (!!) and 62% of Fold in Next Actions, that means, the fish is folding -on average- 62% of time time against a raise on the river, and calling 36%.

Let’s find out if the sizing pattern repeats again:

Once again, the sizing pattern continues:

  • Most used size is 40-60% pot.
  • +40% of weak hands with sizes <80%
  • 37% of weak hands on all overbets.

We can conclude that XC-Donk-Donk is the most overbluffed line.

Comparison & Conclusions

  • The are significant differences in donkbet lines from fish, not all donks are the same on the river.
  • [Call + Call + Donkbet] is the most undebluffed, while [Call + Donk + Donk] is the most overbluffed.
  • The sizing tell is the same in all donk lines. Big bets = more strong hands. Small bets = more weak hands.

By recognizing this, your river decisions against donk bets will improve dramatically, becoming more skillful against recreational opponents and shooting up your winrate 🚀

You can study infinite spots with the powerful features of Hand2Note 4 and Smart Research, getting the statistical edge at the tables crushing your opponents!

Super helpful and high quality for a player who not familier with MDA, thx for sharing