React to donk bets and raises on the flop

At the poker table it is ideal to have the initiative and be the one who initiates any play, but it is not always possible. Whenever you find yourself with the back against the wall and forced to react to someone else’s play, you need to decide whether to fold, call or raise. Since no two hands are the same, it is very hard to come up with a foolproof strategy, because nothing works for sure in online poker. As a rule of the thumb, players who are forced to react to aggression on the flop, needs to think at least one step in advance and think about what might happen on the turn.

When confronted with a donk bet, you need to properly evaluate the strength of your hand and base your decision on equity. If there is a good chance for the turn to improve your hand, or you know that your opponent is a loose aggressive one, you can afford to take a calculated chance and raise. Many assume that this is nothing more than gambling, but if you put things into perspective and think about your move on the turn and river, such a plau makes perfect sense. Raising a donk bet will frequently result in your opponent folding, and the worst-case scenario is for him to come over the top.

Either way, you save yourself a lot of pain on the turn, because the decision is greatly simplified and you can throw your cards without hesitations if confronted with a huge re-raise. Even if the raise made by your opponent on the flop is not a donk bet, it is still advisable to react with a reraise than with a simple call. In online poker you need to know all the time where you stand, and if you are basing your play on a passive style you will always be one step behind your opponent.

Why is raising on turn so profitable?

One of the most valuable lessons that a poker player can learn is that aggressive poker is winning poker, but the question is why raising on the turn is more profitable than similar raises. In a nutshell, such an action will give you the initiative on the river and since this is the last time you will be dealt cards, it is vital not to be the one reacting. By definition, a raise gives you fold equity but on the turn more than on any other street, being the one to make the bet puts you in the driver’s seat.

An unwritten rule of poker says that unless you have a very strong hand, and your opponent reraises you on the turn you should fold immediately. It is debatable whether the bet should trigger the same reaction, but it makes perfect sense not to persevere with calling with an average hand. The fact that you made a bet and the opponent came over the top with a raise, gives you plenty of reasons to assume that he has a very strong hand. Except for those occasions when you have a monster yourself, it is not recommended to take any risks because it is very easy to become pot committed on the river.

On the other hand, players are not wrong to occasionally make a semi-bluff by raising a bet on the turn, even when their cards don’t justify such an action. In addition to giving you the fold equity described above, this kind of raise will empower you to see a less expensive card on the river. The worst-case scenario is to enjoy a free showdown, which is particularly useful when you are drawing for a hand that has low chances to improve.

Learn to exploit fixed betting sequences

Fixed betting sequences are nothing more than patterns, that a keen observer will immediately notice after playing for a few minutes against the same people. Depending on how experienced your opponents are and how good they are at hiding tells, it might take you a while before you have a good read on them. Betting patterns are easier to notice especially over the Internet, where players compete at multiple tables at the same time. Since many don’t have the ability to play their A game at each table, they go on autopilot and this is the first indicator that they are not 100% focused on the game.

Those who limit themselves to a manageable number of tables, can simply react to these fixed betting sequences and win hands without taking any chances. There are plenty of examples worth observing and has amassed quite an impressive collection of educated advices. Most of the betting patterns are obvious pre-flop and on the flop, because in these early stages of the game very few players are analyzing all the angles. The vast majority decide whether a hand is playable or not in a matter of seconds and what follows is an almost automatic response.

In some cases you can’t take advantage of your powerful observations, because the betting sequences are in fact a string of hands folded from various positions. Things turn interesting when players are frequently making a bet on the flop only to check on the turn or check the turn and raise the river. The advantage of knowing one move in advance is invaluable, because you can respond with a reraise or a bet of your own by taking virtually no chances. Especially tight and passive players have such automatic responses that can be exploited by a versatile player.

Resteal pots using table image

While stealing is a criminal offense in any state, when it comes to online poker it is not only acceptable, but also regarded as a major achievement. Players are constantly trying to steal the pots, because if they were to rely exclusively on strong hands, the blinds and the rake would wear them down. The idea of stealing the pot can sound very exciting, but the reality is that behind such a maneuver lies a lot of effort and patience. Even more complicated is to re-steal, because when you resort to this strategy, you need to be confident that you can predict with pinpoint accuracy your opponents reaction.

This is done when you realize that another player is trying to steal the pots that these opponents are reluctant to protect. Whether this particular player has better position or the appropriate table image, his attempt is only successful if he can intimidate his opponents. Distinguishing between a steal and a legitimate hand can be a bit difficult, especially if you were not attentive to what happened at the poker table. That’s why it is essential to pay attention to everything that happens around you, to detect patterns and exploit them.

A re-steal has better chances of being successful if you have played your hand passively, and your image recommends you as an aggressive opponent. Other players might be extra careful when they run into such a foe, and will be more likely to concede than to risk their stack. It is easy to re-steal after a loose aggressive player makes a continuation bet, than against a tight opponent who rarely enters with marginal hands. Re-stealing is potentially dangerous from early position, unless you have a reputation of a tight aggressive player, in which case your aggressiveness can be mistaken for slow playing a monster.