“It was marginal to get it in preflop.”
That’s what Richard "nutsinho" Lyndaker told me after a big hand on Day 2 of the AU$10,600 Aussie Millions Main Event, a tournament that attracted 648 players and was eventually won by Manny Stavropoulos for AU$1.6 million. Lyndaker actually made the final table of that tournament, ultimately finishing in seventh place for AU$160,000.
I’ve always respected Lyndaker's abilities, and his comment stuck in my head long after the hand was over, so much so that I had to ask him about it. However, before I get to that let me explain the hand in question.
It happened in Level 9 (500/1,000/100) when Jack Salter, who finished runner-up in the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific Main Event to Scott Davies back in October, Salter opened for 2,300 from the hijack and Lyndaker just flatted from the cutoff. The player in the big blind came along, and the trio saw a flop of . The big blind checked, Salter continued for 5,200, and Lyndaker popped it to 12,500. The big blind wasted little time in folding, and then Salter three-bet all in for roughly 50,000. Lyndaker snap-called.
Salter had flopped bottom two pair, but he was essentially drawing dead as Lyndaker had flopped middle set. The turn left Salter drawing dead, and after the was put out on the river he took his leave from the tournament.
It was at this point Lyndaker told me the aforementioned: “It was marginal to get it in preflop.”
What exactly did he mean by that, and more importantly, why did he think that? I had to ask him, and as it turned out his line in the hand had a lot to do with one that they had played earlier.
“A few orbits earlier I had three-bet from the same position — cutoff vs. hijack — and he four-bet folded to me. I had 44,000 to start, and he covered me. In this hand he started with about 49,000,” Lyndaker began.
“I wasn't sure how that dynamic would play. It's hard for him to be making a four-bet bluff less wide. He definitely wouldn't stack off with a range that nines was doing well against, but he could potentially four-bet fold wider. I thought that was very likely, and my hand always has a pair on the flop, so I decided to take a flop with it, whereas in the other hand I had an unpaired hand. Then the big blind peeled which is pretty common.”
Lyndaker continued: “On the flop I have a really interesting decision — calling the continuation bet or raising there. I just thought he wasn't going to c-bet the flop versus my flatting range very wide, and he was going with his hand a ton in that spot. There were a lot of turns that would kill my action, so although it's become standard to flat in position with hands as strong as sets, I thought based on the stack sizes in play and the strength of the range I perceived him c-betting, I thought just raising there would be good because I would definitely consider going with various combo draws in that spot immediately rather than flatting.”
I must admit I was surprised by Lyndaker's flat-call preflop, especially given Salter's aggressive reputation. Then again, I wasn't privy to the hours of play preceding the hand. It goes to show you that information from one hand can come into effect later on.
One thing I was pleased to see was Lyndaker's flop raise. In my experience as a player, which usually consists of playing lower buy-in tournaments, those who flop sets tend to slow play, a line that they think will get them maximum value but oftentimes has the reverse effect. On the flip side, as a tournament reporter I've noticed top pros are either leading out or raising with sets, which Lyndaker did here. Occasionally they lose value when their opponents fold, but you'd be surprised how often it ends up getting them paid.
Not only that, leading out or raising with such a strong hand will often throw opponents for a loop, while simultaneously protecting your hand. Playing flopped sets fast is definitely worth considering — though I do admit it sucks when your opponents get away cheap. As for Salter, there really wasn't much he could do after raising with and flopping two pair. From his point of view, Lyndaker could easily have had straight or flush draws, so getting it in makes sense.
“It was definitely a cooler for him holding 9-4 blocking multiple sets I could have. Just unlucky for him,” Lyndaker concluded. “There were a couple of interesting decisions both preflop and on the flop.”
For more on Lyndaker, check out this video he did with Sarah Herring for PokerStars.tv: