What does Donkey mean in poker?

The term “donkey” is a common poker slang term that refers to a weak, unskilled player who plays too many hands and makes a lot of bad calls. A donkey plays very loose and passively, calling down with weak holdings and rarely raising or bluffing. They are usually easy targets for more skilled players to extract value from. Donkeys are sometimes also referred to as “fish” or “calling stations” at the poker table. So in essence, calling someone a donkey in poker means they are a weak, loose passive player who will pay you off when you have a strong hand.

Where did the term “donkey” come from in poker?

The origins of the poker term “donkey” or “donk” are not entirely clear, but here are some theories on where it came from:

– Donkeys are seen as rather dumb, stubborn animals that lack intelligence and make poor decisions. This is similar to how a bad poker player plays very poorly by calling too much without thinking it through.

– Donkeys are beasts of burden meant to carry heavy loads. In poker, the bad players “carry the load” by paying off better players’ strong hands.

– Donkeys are associated with being unskilled laborers. Unskilled poker players are therefore nicknamed donkeys.

– The term may have derived from “dunk” which means to put a basketball through the hoop. “Donk” in poker may refer to easily dunking chips from a bad player into your stack.

– It may come from the Spanish word “donque” which means idiot or fool. Donkeys are seen as foolish creatures, just as weak players act foolishly at the poker table.

So in summary, donkey refers to a foolish, unskilled poker player who constantly makes poor decisions and pays off better players. They lack poker intelligence and strategy.

What are the main characteristics of a donkey in poker?

Here are the main attributes and playing style of a donkey or weak passive poker player:

– Plays far too many hands (wide opening ranges)
– Limps in instead of raising with many weak holdings
– Passive – calls more often instead of betting and raising
– Calls down with weak holdings that should be folded
– Chases draws carelessly and pays off when they miss
– Does not fold when beaten, calling down with second best hands
– Pays off other players’ big hands by calling too much
– Does not bluff enough or balance their ranges
– Makes frequent poor calls and pays other players off
– Has poor understanding of hand values and equity
– Shows down weak holdings and wonders why they lost
– Does not learn from mistakes and correct leaks in their game
– Keeps calling incorrectly thinking their bad play is actually good

In essence, a donkey plays a far too loose and passive style, pays off better players too often, and shows a general lack of understanding of poker fundamentals and winning strategy. They are predictable and profitable opponents for skilled players.

What makes a donkey so profitable to play against?

There are several key reasons why donkeys and weak passive players are profitable to play against in poker:

– They play too many hands, so when you have a strong hand, they will likely pay you off as they play fit-or-fold after the flop.

– They call with weak holdings that should be folded, so you can bet for value with better made hands.

– They pay you off on the river even when the board is dangerous, calling with weak holdings.

– They may go on tilt and spew off chips when they lose, playing even looser.

– They rarely bluff or put pressure back on you, allowing you to realize your equity more often.

– You can isolate them preflop and then bet big on scary boards to take down the pot.

– They allow you to see many cheap flops by not 3-betting light preflop.

– You can exploit their passive tendencies by triple barrel bluffing them off better hands.

– Their lack of balanced play means you can pinpoint their ranges easier and play perfectly against them.

– You can extract maximum value by value betting thinner for big pots against their calling range.

So in summary, donkeys provide great profit potential as they don’t fight back, play fit-or-fold after the flop, pay you off too easily, and allow you to realize your equity with proper aggressiveness. They are passive fish waiting to be fried.

What are some common donkey plays to exploit?

Here are some prime examples of bad donkey plays that you can exploit for profit:

– Calling your preflop raises with weak suited junk hands like Q4 suited. Isolate them and continuation bet big on the flop.

– Limp/calling with weak aces like A5 offsuit. Raise their limps and bet big on ace-high boards.

– Calling your preflop 3-bets with hands like K9 offsuit. Barrel them relentlessly postflop when you have a range advantage.

– Paying off your big river bets with weak second pair hands on scary runouts. Go for thin value on the river.

– Chasing flush and straight draws with poor equity. Charge them to draw by betting big on the flop and turn.

– Calling your c-bets without considering your range. Double and triple barrel bluff them off stronger hands.

– Check/calling down with weak pairs against your aggression. Bet big for value with your strong overpairs.

– Paying you off with top pair weak kicker hands. Keep firing bets when you have top pair strong kicker.

– Not folding when the board pairs. Fire big bets on paired boards when you have full houses.

– Calling 3-bets from the blinds with trash hands like 93o. Isolate them and punish postflop relentlessly.

In summary, donkeys have many leaks in their strategy and fundamentals that you can systematically exploit. Isolate them preflop, value bet thinner for big pots, triple barrel bluff them off stronger hands, and relentlessly punish their weak calls by applying aggression.

How can you avoid playing like a donkey yourself?

Here are some tips to avoid playing like a poker donkey:

– Tighten up your starting hand ranges, especially from early position. Only play premium hands.

– Be more selective with speculative hands like small suited connectors. Make sure you are getting the right implied odds to play them.

– Fold more weak top pair and second pair hands, especially on wet boards where you are often beaten.

– Don’t call raises out of position with weak holdings that don’t flop well. You put yourself in tough spots postflop.

– Be willing to lay down medium strength hands when facing aggression. Don’t pay off opponents too easily.

– Bluff more when you pick up on opponents’ tendencies. Balance your ranges better.

– Make thinner value bets with strong hands. Don’t just call with your big hands.

– Pay more attention to board textures when deciding to call down. Don’t call three streets with weak holdings.

– Size your bets based on the board texture. Make your opponents pay properly for draws.

– Review your lost hands and analyze why you may have made donkey calls. Learn from your mistakes.

– Study fundamental poker strategy. Understand proper bet sizing, board textures, hand equities and more.

In summary, tighten up your starting hand requirements, play less passively, value bet and bluff more appropriately, review your play and learn poker strategy to avoid being a donkey.

What are some other common poker terms for bad players?

Here are some other popular poker nicknames and terms used to describe weak, passive players besides just calling them a “donkey”:

– Fish – An easy mark who will keep feeding you value, like an actual fish getting hooked

– Whale – A high-stakes fish who can win or lose big money

– Calling Station – Calls too often and too loosely, pays off hands

– ATM – Keeps spewing money like an ATM machine

– Clown – A circus act who plays ridiculous like a clown

– Mark – An easy target to be marked for value

– OMC (Old Man Coffee) – Typically an older, nitty, weak player. Drinks coffee and pays you off.

– Gamblodour – Reckless gambler who plays any hand and goes for any draw

– Nit – An extremely tight passive player who overfolds

– Mouse – Very meek player who plays scared and folds too often

– ABC Player – Straightforward, by the books, predictable player

– Tourist – Bad recreational player just gambling for fun like a tourist

– Whale Hunter – Skilled pro who hunts for big money weak players to profit from

So while “donkey” and “fish” are the most common terms, there are many nicknames poker players use to label weak passive opponents they are targeting for profit.

Famous examples of “donkeys” in poker history

Here are some famous poker players who became well known for playing like “donkeys” and paying off other pros during their careers:

– Guy Laliberte – Former CEO of Cirque du Soleil who played hyper-aggressively as a whale in Bobby’s Room

– Andy Beal – Amateur billionaire banker who lost millions to top pros like Ivey, Dwan and Greenwood

– Jamie Gold – Rank amateur who somehow won 2006 WSOP Main Event and gave away millions on High Stakes Poker

– Jerry Buss – Owner of the Lakers who loved to gamble and donated millions to pros in high stakes cash games

– Elezra Vulcano – Flamboyant French businessman who played loose aggressive and lost fortunes to Dwan and Ivey

– Leon Tsoukernik – Czech businessman and owner of Rozvadov whose life has been marred by big gambling losses

– Brandon Steven – Online pro who lost over $6 million on Full Tilt under name “Rizen”

– Guy Laliberte – Former CEO of Cirque du Soleil who played hyper-aggressively as a whale in Bobby’s Room

– William Kassouf – Known for his relentless speech play on WSOP broadcasts, frustrating many pros

– Gus Hansen – Successful poker pro early on who then developed a loose spewy image in high stakes cash games

While some of these players had success at times, they all developed reputations as wealthy fish who paid off other top pros frequently, earning them a donkey label among poker circles. Their loose aggressive play and marginal hand selection made them great targets to extract value from.

What are the best strategies to use against a donkey?

Here are some highly effective tips and strategies to employ when up against a known poker donkey in order to maximize your profit:

– Play very tight early on. Only play premium hands like big pairs and wait for spots to stack them.

– Make huge 3-bets for value pre-flop when you pick up a big hand to build the pot.

– Isolate them every chance you get when positioned to their left. Play heads up pots in position.

– Be willing to stack off lighter than usual when you pickup strong hands. Don’t go for thin value, go for stacks.

– Double or triple barrel bluff them relentlessly whenever you sense weakness. Keep the story going.

– Make thinner value bets on the river. Go for 40-50% pot bets to get max value with your monsters. Don’t slowplay too much.

– Constantly pay attention to bet sizing tells. If they start betting bigger they can have a real hand.

– Put intense pressure on them by betting big when you pickup equity edges. Make them fold better hands.

– Play straight-forward on earlier streets then exploit missed draws by the river with relentless bluffs.

– Punish their passive tendencies by firing multiple barrels when you know they have marginal holdings or draws.

– Get away from second best hands yourself. Don’t fall in love with top pair weak kickers against their bloated range.

Using optimal bet sizing, relentless pressure, maximizing value bets and tricky lines will allow you to systematically exploit and profit from weak donkeys. Tight and aggressive precision play is key.

How can you spot a likely donkey at a poker table?

Here are some common signs and tendencies that can identify a likely donkey or fish at your poker table:

– Playing too many garbage hands and seeing too many flops
– Limp/calling preflop instead of raising or folding
– Calling 3-bets light and out of position frequently
– Chasing draws with poor equity
– Calling down too often without backing up their actions with aggression
– Overplaying weak top pair hands
– Paying off huge river bets with waek holdings
– Not adapting their strategy based on opponent tendencies
– Getting frustrated or going on tilt when losing pots
– Stacking off passively with one pair hands or worse
– Showing weak hands at showdown and saying “I thought I was good!”
– Making conversation about gambling, partying, drinking while playing
– Sporting flashy clothing, jewelry and talking up a loose image

Players displaying these tendencies are likely to be weak passive fish who play too many hands too passively. Once you spot these traits, you can look to isolate and put pressure on them to maximize your edge and profit. Use proper bet sizing to extract maximum value when they exhibit donkey attributes.

Should you avoid or target donkeys in specific poker formats?

Here is some guidance around targeting or avoiding donkeys in various poker formats:

Cash Games:
– Actively target and isolate donkeys in cash games. Their chips don’t disappear so you can profit indefinitely.

– Be more cautious around donkeys in tournaments as they can suck out with garbage hands and bust you. But you can still target them when effective stacks are deeper.

Short Stack Poker:
– Avoid donkeys when playing short stack poker as their all-in range becomes stronger and they can crack your big pairs and flip for stacks.

Live Low Stakes:
– Thrive against donkeys in live low stakes games. You can outplay them postflop and use math to make optimal exploits.

Online High Stakes:
– Don’t underestimate donkeys in online high stakes. Some are recreational players with deep pockets who you can value target.

Heads Up:
– Crush donkeys in heads up matches. Isolate them and relentlessly pressure every mistake.

So in summary, cash games, live low stakes, and heads up give you the most profit potential against donkeys, while online high stakes, MTTs and short stack poker require more caution as the variables increase.


Calling someone a “donkey” or “fish” in poker means they are a weak, passive player who plays too many hands, pays off better players too easily, and lacks fundamental understanding of poker strategy. Donkeys have many leaks that can be systematically exploited for big profits by isolating them preflop, value betting thinner for big pots, triple barrelling them relentlessly, and punishing their tendency to call stations. While donkeys can be very profitable to target in cash games and live low stakes, you need to exercise more caution against their all-in ranges in MTTs and short stack games where they can bink suckouts. Mastering how to spot a likely donkey through their tendencies and optimally exploit their mistakes will lead to a winning poker career.

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