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Capture the Flag With Richard Lyndaker

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Oct 15, 2014

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Richard LyndakerRichard “nutsinho” Lyndaker is widely regarded as one of the most skilled online poker players around. The 28-year-old poker professional has played as high as $300-$600 no-limit hold’em.

Lyndaker has also found the time to cash for roughly $1.5 million lifetime in poker tournaments, further proving that he is one of the most well-rounded no-limit hold’em grinders on the planet.

Just this past summer, Lyndaker recorded two cashes at the 2014 World Series of Poker. He finished 11th in the $25,000 buy-in mix-max event and eighth in the $10,000 buy-in pot-limit hold’em championship.

Card Player had the chance to speak to Lyndaker about beating the online cash games.

Brian Pempus: Can you talk about how you found poker?

Richard Lyndaker: I started playing home games with friends toward the end of junior year in high school, for $5 or $10. This was at the beginning of the Moneymaker poker boom, so everyone was really interested in it and we played several nights per week. Soon, some of my friends were playing on PartyPoker and having some success, so they encouraged me to try it. I also got into reading the strategy forums at flopturnriver.com, where a number of good players got their start.

BP: Did playing for those stakes back then feel like it was a serious game?

RL: Definitely. I never had a job during school, so my only income was about a $20 weekly allowance. We were allowed to go off campus for lunch during the school week, so my ability to go out to lunch with friends depended on winning in the poker games.

BP: How did you go about moving up in stakes online?

RL: I would attribute that to becoming friends with better players. I had learned how to beat full-ring up to $2-$4, but wanted to transition to six-max because that’s where all the tough players were playing, and most of the action at higher stakes was becoming shorter-handed. In the beginning of 2008, I was invited on a poker trip by a kid I had played with a handful of times at the Turning Stone $2-$5 games. His name is Adam Seaquist, and he has been beating the mid-stakes games on PokerStars as ‘adam001’ for the last seven or eight years. On this trip, I met and befriended Will Reynolds and future Card Player Player of the Year Tom Marchese. Watching all these guys play online and talk about their decisions was an immediate huge help to my thought process and allowed me to develop a more loose-aggressive style. A couple of months after that, I was the biggest winner at $3-$6 on Pokerstars and, by the end of the year, I was a $25-$50 regular.

BP: Was it easy to explain at the time why you were crushing $3-$6? Or was it more like things were just really clicking with that loose-aggressive style and you were in a zone that couldn’t really be explained?

RL: Despite my poker aptitude being very high, I think I’d reached the limits of what I could teach myself over the previous two years and my poker game became too stagnant. When I experimented with playing a lot of hands, I think my post-flop aggression was too frequent and predictable, and I got crushed, so I adjusted by playing extremely nitty. The strategy was enough to win, but not at a big rate. When I got friends who, at the time, wanted to play and discuss poker 24/7, I learned how to navigate through marginal hands much more skillfully, and there was a lot more money to be won.

BP: Did that involve becoming excellent at betting for thin value?

RL: Yes. Betting for thin value in 2008 was my favorite thing to do, and I felt like a boss when thin bets worked out. These days, people are arriving at the turn and river with much more balanced ranges in high-stakes cash games and are managing to make better decisions facing bets with those ranges, so thin value-betting is a far less notable component of my strategy.

BP: Do you think it would have been hard to imagine, or predict, back then how much tougher the online cash games would get?

RL: I certainly didn’t see it coming, but admittedly, I did not spend enough time thinking about where poker might be headed. I’m not alone in my poker generation for regretting my lack of professional habits during what was a golden era. I left a lot of money on the table. That being said, I think no-limit is a lot less close to being “solved” than people think, at least as far as the decisions actually being made by regulars in-game. There is plenty of money left to be made, particularly in games played deeper.

BP: Do you think there will be another golden era for poker in terms of money to be won?

RL: Not in the same capacity as before. Inexperienced players get their money siphoned off so quickly now. I thought we could see a lot of action in America when online poker came back, but it’s coming back so gradually, and in small, state-by-state markets, that there isn’t going to be any massive influx of money into the online poker community. I think live [multi-table tournaments] have done a great job attracting amateurs lately, but grinding live multi-table tournaments for a living is unattractive due to variance concerns and, in my opinion, much lower quality of life compared to professional online poker.

BP: Do you think pot-limit Omaha (PLO) might be the game of the future for cash games, both live and online? Do you think if PLO really caught on as the predominant game there could be a “boom” due to recreational players not feeling so outmatched like they might be starting to feel in no-limit hold’em?

RL: I would almost say that PLO is the predominant game this year, as far as cash games go. It isn’t really a good tournament game—putting chips in the pot deep in tournaments is pretty much always an independent chip model disaster because of the close hand equities. It’s a game where amateurs can often have winning sessions and even go on sick heaters, so it’s definitely a game that has potential for a lot of action. However, good PLO players these days are really good, and it shouldn’t feel like a fair fight to an amateur with some understanding of what’s going on.

BP: Going back to no-limit hold’em, can you talk about some of the mistakes that you still see being made in deeper-stacked games?

RL: This is definitely going against the grain, but I think people fear putting in action out of position too much. It is terrible to be out of position deep in multi-way pots, but in heads-up pots, I think you can actually leverage acting first with very high stack-to-pot ratios. And, in practice, I think people are playing too spewy in position preflop. They will put in four-bets with high frequency thinking they have a lot of leverage in the hand, but actually you can realize a ton of your equity deep out of position by playing hands with nut potential and being willing to bluff a lot.

BP: Can you talk about how hard it is to move up to the nosebleeds these days?

RL: It is nearly impossible to move up to the highest stakes these days. One must put in very long hours both studying and playing to achieve the expected value (EV) needed to beat $5-$10 no-limit or higher for a decent rate. You also need to have a seating script to get enough opportunities against the weakest players where you’ll have the chance to win some easy stacks. If you’re mostly playing in games against regulars, your win rate is going to be small in 100 big blind, six-max games no matter how well you play. With that said, if you are a heads-up player and find people who will play you who are worse than you, you can siphon money from them relatively quickly. Most heads-up regulars employ strict game selection, and amateurs giving action at heads up is rare, but there are some certain Scandinavians who play an exploitable style who like to battle. To beat them, you have to be extremely talented and prepared to handle a ton of pressure.

BP: Who are some of the toughest players online you play these days and why?

RL: The toughest players are generally the ones you see sitting alone at $25-$50 no-limit hold’em or higher games on PokerStars – some young guys from Russia and Belarus who rarely, if ever, play live poker. Almost all of them use a game theory-oriented game plan and work extremely hard on designing their ranges to yield the highest EV in every situation. I play with them occasionally because, a) I think I may have an edge with deep stacks if I am very focused and playing my A game and, b) there is a good chance that a recreational player may join if they see a three-or-four-handed game running. The best regulars will always play me, but I am not seen as a spot by the mid-tier regulars, so there will always be seats that remain available for amateurs. ♠