Go Ahead and Look Like a Donkey … Just Don’t Actually Be One

In poker, as in life, you are called a donkey for doing something stupid. Often a donkey doesn’t even know he has made a mistake.

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Wild donkeys are a real nuisance in the Las Vegas area

In poker it’s OK to look like a donkey; you just don’t actually want to be a donkey.

Which are you?

There are no absolutes in poker. That is, there are no hard & fast rules that say you must always play a certain hand in a certain way.  It’s part of the beauty of the game.

But there are conventions and plays that are considered ‘normal’, expected behaviour. If you have 3-5 off-suit in a multi-player pot it is normal to fold this hand, in any position (except in the Big Blind, if you have not been raised).

If you Limp in with this hand and then flop a straight, be prepared to be called a donkey. If you call a raise with this hand pre-flop and then make your straight, watch out! Your opponents may be frothing at the mouth as they are calling you donkey.

But looking like a donkey is not necessarily being a donkey. When you decide to play a hand like 3-5 off-suit, be clear on why you are doing it. There are more than a few good possible reasons:

  • You want to give the appearance that you are indeed a donkey! This can also frustrate your opponents, put them on tilt, and make them want to play hands against you
  • You are sitting at an extremely tight table and you intend to take advantage of this by betting with aggression
  • You are taking the opportunity to experiment with your playing style or to ‘shift gears’
  • You yourself have a reputation as a tight player; at the end of this hand you will show your cards, most especially if you are successful with a bluff, to keep your opponents guessing
  • It gives you a chance to observe what others are doing (a bit like playing your hand blind) & to look for opportunities to take advantage of –based solely on the cards on the board and the play of others
  • You use this type of hand as a way of randomizing your bluff. You could pick a hand like this to be a signal to yourself that it’s time to consider a bluff. This makes it unpredictable and unrelated to anything that has been happening at the table up to that point. Your opportunity to bluff arises solely on the basis of these two cards showing up in your hand.
    Caution: you will consider bluffing but may still easily throw this hand away if your tight opponents are raising and re-raising the pot!

A final note: just because someone makes a play you don’t like or has the guts to call your bluff with a weak hand, it doesn’t make that person a donkey. In fact, if you find yourself constantly criticizing other players, be careful…you just may be the one who is the donkey!

Here’s To A Life Of Fun & Games!

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