There have been countless posts in the forums about bad beats by donks and being tired of playing them. There have been countless replys saying that donks are your friends. That's true but learning how to take advantage, and not to get bad beat, is the secret. The online poker world (particularly lower limit games) is made up primarily of bad players there only for entertainment. Yes, some are good and everyone likes the thrill of the win, but who's really playing a .10 cent or .25 game to make any real money? Nobody. It's bascially just an adult alternative to TV or video games for many. Tom "durrr" Dwan doesn't play .10 cent games. For most of us lower limit players, therefore, our opponents are weak (donk) players. Know who you're playing against.
After Doyle Brunson won his second World Series Of Poker title in 1977 he wrote "Doyle Brunson's Super System," the first complete guide on how to play No Limit Hold'em. If you haven't read it, it's the one book I would suggest. Keep in mind his suggestions are just as relevant today even though there was no such thing as the internet in 1977. Online poker has just increased exponentially the universe of weak players and the number of hands you'll ever play.
Weak players (Donks):
Doyle has a section about playing these weak players (the word 'donk' wasn't coined yet). Here's what he had to say:
"You have to categorize your opponents as to the quality of their play...and you'll have to play very differently against strong players than you do against weaker ones [like calling stations]. This is of crutial importance in No-Limit play.
1. Against a low grade player..you simply make the obvious play.That is you don't try to get fancy when you're in a pot with a weak player. You don't try to make subtle moves that'll be far beyond his capacity to understand or appreciate. You play fundamentally better (rather than strategically better) than a weak player. In a word, you outplay him.
2. Against a higher grade player.. (someone thinking along the same lines as you do)... you must mix up your play. Sometimes you make an obvious play against a strong player (as you would against a weak player).. and sometimes you go at it another way and make a play that's not so obvious. Most of the time ... you have to put a play (outmanoeuvre) a strong player."
"You simply can't bluff a bad player...because a bad player will play [e.g. call] when he's got some kind of hand and will pass when he doesn't have a hand. ... And you're not going to get him out of the pot trying to bluff him. Above all... you don't want to gamble with a weak player. ... You do very fundamental things against a bad player. Obvious things. That is...no tricks... no strategic plays...nothing fancy. Play straight forward poker against a weak player."
"Against a good player you'll have a lot more tools to work with...many different strategies to use. You're effectively restricted to 'pickaxe and shovel' basic, fundamental things against a weak player. Never forget that. "
Unraised Pots (all limpers):
Most players in low limit games just limp in, even with AK and especially with small or mid pairs. Some hands are raised preflop but the vast majority of low limit hands are limped pots. They don't want to commit any money until they see a flop and/or know they have the best hand or draw. I've played against online and live players who've actually said "I've gotta see a flop." Here's Doyle's comments on these limped pots.
"In No Limit Play you must be very careful you don't lose all your chips in an unraised pot." Where six players limped in for the cost of one big blind "[t]he six people in the pot with you tried to turn the nuts for free. And one of them might have the nuts. Or close to it. So when one of the players commits all his money when there's only [a few dollars or less] in the pot...you better watch out." You're flopped two pair may be beat by 22/2. He's not saying don't play the hand, but play it carefully because nobody showed early strength. If it's checked to you then bet. If you get raised use your judgment and knowledge of your opponents to decide whether to continue in the hand. If someone pushes and you have two pair, think first before you click All-in. If you limped with AQ and a flop of QT7 and another player pushes, think before you click All-in. I've seen countless players get beat by a set here. I'm not saying don't play the hand just think for a while first. On some sites like Poker Nordica you can show one card when you fold. By doing this it may induce the winning player to show his cards. Frequently players like to show their big hands and you get valuable information.
"An importat point for you to remember is that in a judgment situation you're always better off sticking to your first impression. Once you decide what a man's most likely to have especially in No Limit play you should never change your mind. You'll probably be right the first time...so don't try to second guess yourself."
And my two cents: (1) don't let your human instinctive 'curiosity' cost you any money. Don't call an all-in because you 'had to know'. Think of poker as business. (2)You gotta play solid in low stakes online games against weak players. If you're seeing more than 25% of the flops that's too many. Watch your stats. One table poker is basically a boring game interrupted by occassional excitment. The lack of excitement may cause you to play more marginal hands. You can play 2 tables to avoid the natural bordem that come with the slow pace of the game and focus on playing good hands and solid post-flop. (3) Take notes on your opponents, when they raise, with what, how much, when they bet after the flop, when they check. You frequently see the same low limit players over and over again and they'll play the same cards the same way over and over again. Knowing how even 2 or 3 players play while at a table is a big, big advantage. (4) Think of poker as an online job where you're gonna get a performance review at the end of each month and each hand evaluated. If you're embarrassed about any part of the results, then review your play and how you'd play a hand over. Bad beats don't count against you. Learning from mistakes is normal but making the same mistakes over and over means you have a bad habit. If you play golf and always hook off the tee don't you try to alter your swing to try to correct it? These are just a few suggestions.