Donkeys in poker refer to players of below average playing ability. As opposed to other terms such as fish, calling someone a donkey, or donk for short, is even more insulting.
So new players may be fish, and it may be just because they are new, or just haven't had enough experience or studied the game enough. Donkeys are idiots and when you call someone a donkey it isn't just that they are a bad player, they are stupid.
So we could say that some players are good, some are weaker or fish, and the dumbest ones are donkeys. However, some players use the term donkey to refer to all poorly skilled players.
Whether you are a donkey or not can also be relative to someone's own playing ability. So one person may look up to a certain player while another of higher ability may look down on the same player and consider them to be a donkey.
People who suffer bad beats will often call their opponents donkeys for making the bad play that led to the bad beat. In these cases we may wonder who is the bigger donkey, the poor player or the player who has lost their cool and either is trying to educate them or drive them away. In my mind he is the bigger idiot.
Donkeys also have a type of bet named after them, the "donk bet," which is someone leading out of position. While it might be true that donkeys do bet a lot out of position, it can be a valuable tool if used in the proper situations, and anyone who excludes these bets because they think they are moves a donkey makes is a donkey themselves.
As a rule, the lower the stakes, the more donkeys you tend to see. There are donkeys at every stake though, although their donkey-ness is a relative thing. Some sites have a higher percentage of donkeys than others.
For instance you don't find a lot of big donkeys at Poker Stars, since they attract the best players and donkeys don't last long there. The donkeys there either get better or do not survive.
There are some other poker sites which attract a lot of non poker players and most of the players there are donkeys. Since they are in the majority, they have a tendency to do better, and their bad play tends not to stand out as much.
Donkeys tend to be the players that lose their money faster than other types of bad players, such as the nit. The nit just sits back and waits for big hands, and therefore folds way too much. Donkeys play too many hands and play them poorly as well, having a poor understanding of the odds and getting in all sorts of trouble pushing bad hands too far.
So while the nit is too cautious, the donkey is too bold, and while both are dumb players, the donkey will lose his or her money more quickly and therefore are more profitable to play against.
So while all bad players could be said to be donkeys, the real donkeys are the ones stupid enough to lose stack after stack and keep coming back for more. This is why I like poker sites that attract a lot of casino gamblers to their tables.
They tend to not only be donkeys but donkeys who don't mind losing a lot of money for the thrill of the action, and in fact they are used to dropping a lot of money at the casino so it's no big deal to them.
As a matter of fact, anyone who bets at casinos are donkeys in a sense, as they have the odds against them but don't mind, which isn't too smart to start with. So when they come over to the poker tables and don't know much about poker, then that's a beautiful thing.
Regardless of where they come from though, the more donkeys we can play against and the bigger donkeys that we can find, the more money that we will win. We should never lose our cool and get angry with a donkey for playing stupidly and beating us in a hand. Rather, we should congratulate the donkey and just say "nice hand," as we want and need them to continue to play badly and not encourage them to fold their garbage.
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