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When I Was A Donk: Doug Lee

When I Was A Donk: Doug Lee

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Aug 10, 2011


Doug Lee is one of the most colorful and aggressive no-limit hold’em players on the circuit today. The Canadian poker pro started cashing in major tournaments back in 2004, and since then has accumulated $1.1 million in career earnings. His poker accomplishments include a World Series of Poker Circuit win in 2005 for a whopping $695,970, as well as a long history of success at the Venetian in the casino’s Deepstack series. He won another event at the Venetian just this past April — a $300 no-limit hold’em event, for about $13,000. All told, he has cashed 26 times in his career, six of which were wins — he usually makes his deep runs count.

Here, Lee talks about his migration to the small-ball strategy for the early stages of no-limit hold’em tournaments, and why changing his approach has worked well, especially after he established a loose and crazy image from some TV exposure years ago. Card Player caught up with him during the 2011 WSOP main event, after he bagged and tagged 183,500 going into the second day of action.

“These days, I have been using a small-ball strategy, not going all in as much and trying to pick up smaller pots here in there. It has really worked well for me lately, especially in the early stages of this year’s main event. This event is really a special tournament, and it’s a marathon, so the small-ball approach really applies to this one.”

“My image of being really loose and crazy helps get me paid off against amateurs, especially when they don’t realize the new approach I am using these days. Learning to use my image to my advantage in order to make the maximum when I have a strong hand is something I have consciously been working on over the past few years of my poker career. I also try to take the stack sizes into consideration, and play small-ball against the big stacks, while putting pressure on some of the small ones. A specific example of this particular strategy is not reraising with A-K preflop against players at the table who also have a lot of chips. This has worked well for me in the main event, so far.”

“As a result of the changes, my chip stack doesn’t go up and down as drastically as it used to during the early stages of an event. This is a good thing in tournament play. With that being said, in the past I was able to accumulate chips exponentially faster than I do now, by really putting pressure on even the big stacks and racing all of the time. But by using the small-ball strategy, you can still get there with a lot less risk and variance. Most of the better players in poker use the small-ball style.”

“Basically, in my last year and a half of making a lot of no-limit hold’em final tables, I have been experimenting with ways of playing this way effectively against less-experienced players who may be more prone to look for the coin-flip scenario. For a long time in my career, these players were the toughest for me to play against, and it’s just recently that I feel like I’ve learned how to play against calling-stations. I bluff way less than I used to early on in tournaments, and that’s definitely another thing anyone should learn if they want to go with this approach.” ♠