Playing Overpairs, Donk Betting, Tough Opponents and Showdowns | Q&A | #63

In today’s Q&A I answer three listener questions about playing overpairs out of position, donk betting, playing against tough opponents and the importance of learning from showdowns.

In episode 62 I interviewed James ‘SplitSuit’ Sweeney and we discussed poker coaching, player leaks and his hand reading course called ‘The Hand Reading Lab.’

Playing Overpairs OOP, Donk Betting, Tough Opponents and Showdowns

Question 1 from LTU Maximus (4:15)

 Hi Sky,

I have a question, let’s assume I have QQ UTG and I opened to 3.5bb, the ABC Tag villain in the CO is the only caller.  The flop comes 2c4c8h. Pot 8.5bb.  I cbet 5.5bb and the villain calls, pot is now 19.5bb. The turn comes 6h. So the board is 2c4c8h6h, I cbet 13bb and the villain calls. The pot is now 35.5bb on the river and the Jc comes. So, the final board is 2c4c8h6hJc.

So, what now??? Should I check & call depending on how much the villain bets?  Should I cbet the river and fold after he goes all-in? This is a very hard but very common spot.  Bad regs they reraise you post flop or Turn, good regs they just calling you till river and then reraise.  Most of the time they have sets.  And in this case villain held pocket 88’s. Good for him 🙂

How are you playing in situations like that? What is the quickest way to know a villain has a set?

Thanks!  Best Regards, LTUMaximus

  • What Now?  This ABC TAG has called on both streets so he likes his hand or he’s on a good flush draw.  The Jc fills that draw, and it won’t scare his other good hands, so I’d c/c or c/f based on his river sizing.  Try to get to showdown cheaply.
  • If the villain is capable of floating IP on the f&t and capable of bluffing the river to blow you off a hand, then for sure c/c.  As an ABC TAG, it’s likely he got to the river with something worthy like a set, an overpair that might be ahead, a fd or sd or some kind of pair+combo.  If you bet the river he’s only calling with hands that beat you at this point.
  • What’s the quickest way to know a villain has a set?  Look for uncharacteristic aggression, you can also make plays to give him the opportunity to show you he has a set.  You could c/r the turn and when he 3bets you know he has it and you can get out at that point.  Your c/r on the turn also sets up the possibility of another c/r on the river, so when he calls your c/r and you check the river, he’ll likely check behind unless he’s got a really good hand.
  • Paying attention to showdowns is so important.  He flopped a set here, so make sure you note how he played IP w/flopped top set.  Every showdown gives you information you can use to aid in future decisions.

Question 2 from Danilo (7:30)

Hi Sky,
Not sure if you covered this already, but one question I have is about when is a good spot to donk bet against a raiser and when you raise and someone donk bets you, what do they usually have?
Keep up the good work on the podcast and thanks for the work you put into it.
Cheers, Danilo
  • Good spot to donk bet?  One of my recent newsletters covered my thoughts on donk betting considerations.  In that same newsletter I also gave access to a donk semi-bluffing HH review video.

Donk Considerations (1)

  • There are three questions I always ask myself when it comes to considering whether or not to donk lead a flop:
    • Is my hand good enough to c/c?
    • Is my hand good enough to c/r?
    • Is my hand bad enough to c/f?

    If the answer to these questions are all “no” then donk leading is a good idea.  If the answer to any one is “yes” then I’ll just do that.

    These questions (from a webinar by Alex Fitzgerald) are so important is b/c they give you a set of criteria to gauge the profitability of a donk lead.

    Now, a donk lead is betting out of position, so in essence you’re building the pot OOP against a pre-flop raiser.  I like to donk lead when the answers to the above questions are “no” and if these favorable conditions are in place: 1) the villain is fit-or-fold and 2) there are lots of turn cards that add equity to my hand which allows me to barrel another street.

  • For example, let’s say the flop is 982r with one spade and I have JsTs.  So I’ve got an oesd, two over cards and a bdfd.  On the turn there are so many cards that can come that add equity to my hand and help me to barrel.  If a J, T, Q, 7 or a spade comes, my hand has improved and I can continue barreling knowing that if they call I’m either getting value or I can still catch a strong hand.What do they have when they donk lead?  Your opponents won’t often put a lot of thought into their donk leads.  Some will bluff at scary boards like A high and monotone boards, or even baby boards that they assume your raise pre-flop is often broadway cards that miss these types of boards.  Other opponents only donk lead when they flop strong and they hope you re-raise w/AA.Once again, paying attention to showdowns is super important.  In your notes under any player, you can simply put things like “flopped set, donked 3/4pot” or “donk bluffed Q high on A24 flop.” Just note anything that they make the play with.Ultimately, there are so many possibilities for what your opp’s could be making donk bets with that it’s gonna come down to you paying attention to showdowns and noting what hands they did what with.  But having a donk lead plan like I have makes you much more formidable than the random donk leads your opp’s make.

Question 3 from Sen (11:55) – abridged

Hello Sky,

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

I feel like I’m getting bluffed a lot, and my opp’s are putting me to very tough decisions.  Do you have any positive advice for someone getting disillusioned and feeling frustrated with tough opponents?

I play in cardrooms where the cards are dealt out of an electronic machine so no dealer and we get dealt about 50 hands an hour. Most of the player pool is grinders since recreational players don’t trust the cpu, so the caliber of competition is tuff.

Should I transition to online? I’ve been playing LIVE poker for about four years now.

Thank you very much for your time and advice

Cheers, Sen

  • Part of poker is also good table, good tourney and good opponent selection.  Card rooms full of fish are wonderful, full of sharks not so much.  Find another fishing hole or watching a movie or something.  In tourneys you can’t choose your table, but you can choose which opponents to get involved with.
  • When you do play against a lot of regs, they put you in tough spots and you often question if you were being bluffed or not.  You need to record notes on any tough decision they put you through, and analyze these with a program like Flopzilla.  Assign your opp’s a pre-flop range then narrow it down based on their actions as the streets progress.  The more you practice this, the better you’ll become at dealing with these tough spots.Since you’re a LIVE player, I’d love to see you using Evernote or a pad and paper or a poker app to record your hands for later review.And once again, you need to pay attention to every showdown and take note of what they made certain plays with.  If you catch a guy bluffing w/ a fd, make a note and be ready for this in the future.  If you’ve never seen a guy bluff and he only bets w/TP+, make note of these observations as well b/c they’ll help you in the future.Should I transition to online?  I don’t recommend making a transition, b/c that’s up to how you enjoy the online realm, and it takes a while to get into it after playing LIVE so long.  But, I do recommend playing online.  You need a smaller bankroll for that, and you can also just play to work on building certain skills and putting yourself in tough spots.  B/c you can get in more hands, it’s more practice and should make you a better player sooner.  Start out playing $.05/$.10 or  $.10/$.25 just to get a feel for it.  It might sound like the stakes are just too low, but the skill of online opponents in general is often much higher than LIVE, so start low, get a feel, and work your way up.
Sky Matsuhashi
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