Thursday, April 03, 2008

Journey Into The Mind Of A Donk - Part #2 - Calling

Another Part #2... this could be a longer series of intermittent posts thinking about it, a lot of characteristics manifest themselves when you take the journey into the mind of a donk! Here is a link to the first installment which was about slowplaying:

Todays journey is into the reasoning a donk might give for constantly calling, making those calls before the flop, and indeed on every street - whether there has been a raise (or even a re-raise) and however slim their chances... instead of looking at specific scenarios I'd like to try and get 'into the heads' of our foolish (small ' f ') opponents a little here and look at how they justify all this calling activity.... just in case you do not already know I will then finish the post with a couple of (choice!) words as to why winning players are not, on the whole, callers (though, calling has its place at times for all).

The Mind Of A DONK - Why They Call...

1) Since entering a pot in No-Limit Holdem (or any game), even for a raise - is so cheap compared to the depth of the stacks, they only need to hit a hidden monster now and again to justify calling bets many times. This leads to calling with weak and marginal hands.

2) Donks (by their very nature) over-estimate the strength of ace-x hands and suited hands, leading to calling with these.

3) Combine the 2 reasons above with a lack of awareness of position, whether the betting will be closed by their call (and protected pots in general), tendencies / ranges of those already in the pot and stack sizes and you can see that the reasons for calling are strong... for example how many times have you seen someone call a 3bb raise with Ace-rag only to face a 5bb re-raise from a desperate short stack and be forced to call due to the odds (yep, I read blogs + forums, it upsets people when they hit!!)

4) Slowplaying, in order to get the maximum payoff they deserve each time those aces, kings or ace-king appears these hands are called with too... think about that for a minute, calling a raise in bad position in a multi-way pot with ace-king, and then wondering why their stack quickly disappears.

5) Well, after you have limped it is only a few more chips / dollars to see a flop, does not matter if the implied-odds are there for that tiny-pair... after all the player who raised might be bluffing!

Enough reasons for the moment, feel free to drop a comment if you can think of any more!

What your average donk misses is how powerful the alternatives to calling are. Folding is great, this can prevent you losing your stack (or having to buy-in again in that cash game) with a weak hand in bad position... it is a habit that can save you many nasty post-flop decisions when excercised correctly.

Raising... now this one is beyond great - it is the true mark of a winning poker player. You get to take pots when you raise, since your opponents will miss the flop the majority of the time this is actually remarkably easy to do. All those pots add up to a healthy stack, which means you can revert to folding once resistance gets heavy.

All that stuff about slowplaying to disguise your hand, how about a raise for disguise instead, how about building a pot over several streets with those aces instead of checking with them... by the time the river comes and you finally get those last chips in then your opponent will be committed to the pot.

How about raising to define your hand, at the low limits you rarely see a 4-bet without a monster (and in PLO Games almost never). How about raising to sweeten the pot, make the turn bets a little bit bigger when you have a small pair that could turn into a big hand on the right flop. How about raising with suited connectors, mostly you'll win without a showdown, but those times you do hit nobody will give you credit for the straight - leading to a very big payoff.

There are 100's of perfectly good reasons for raising... either with the best hand, as a profitable (semi) bluff or simply to take yet another small pot on the flop.

Sure, there is the place for a 'flat call' in any balanced strategy - but when we travel into the mind of a donk we can easily see why calling can both seem correct and be so very wrong!

Hopefully something to think about!

Gl at the tables, Mark

1 comment:

Cell 1919 said...

As an inexperienced poker player who is not exactly a donk (I win, but win small and at micro-stakes) I can understand the psycholgy you refer to.

I'd just add a couple of things from my experience. I play 6 Max NLHE25.

I will call quite a bit with marginal hands pre-flop because I like to think I'm disciplined enough to get away from the hand if table conditions change. Post flop I'm either aggressive or muck the hand. It depends on position, of course, but with fewer players to act wherever you are on the table getting raises through unopposed is easier.

'Donks' will often call a raise pre-flop with their A8os but then tend to melt away when they don't hit. This is a valuable source of free chips. If you make a play and they play back then it's fairly safe to assume that you're up against a real hand. There's not much point in trying to out think them from there because there will be many other opportunities. If they do follow you to the river the range that they're calling with is often astonishingly poor. Playing sets is virtually like taking them to a cashpoint at gunpoint if you bet correctly and don't scare them off the pot.

Sorry that this is getting long...

I think the other factor is that many of these players value their chips too highly. They aren't prepared to take the risk of losing what might be 10% of their entire roll on one hand. It's not exactly scared money, but it's the next best thing.

Finally, they don't have patience. A session for them might involve a hundred hands or less, so they feel like it's a waste unless they're involved. Folding, as we all know, can often be a +VE move, not a sign of weakness. This is where there's a major difference between S&G play and cash. The former involves just chips as tokens, while in the latter your bets come off the bottom line.

Anyway, just a few thoughts from the murk of the lower levels. What happens higher up I'm yet to experience, but I'm sure it's a damned sight harder!