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Final Table Takedown With Dylan Linde

by Steve Schult |  Published: Mar 13, 2019


Dylan Linde is a long-time grinder that’s been making quite a living on the felt for over a decade. He has tournament cashes dating all the way back to 2005 before turning pro several years later.

The Idaho native, who currently resides in Vancouver, already had $2 million in live tournament earnings before last December, but his victory in the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic main event, worth more than $1.6 million, nearly doubled his lifetime total.

The 38-year-old is one of the more well-rounded poker players on the circuit with tournament cashes in several different variations of the game, including a deep run in the $10,000 Omaha eight-or-better championship at last summer’s World Series of Poker.

Linde sat down with Card Player to go through his thought process of several hands he played at the final table en route to his first WPT title.

Hand 1

Concepts: Identifying board textures to use a small bet size.

The Action: Dylan Linde raised to 225,000 from the hijack and Andrew Lichtenberger called out of the big blind. The flop was KHeart Suit 5Club Suit 3Diamond Suit. Lichtenberger checked, Linde bet 200,000 and Lichtenberger called. The turn was the 5Heart Suit. Lichtenberger checked, Linde bet 500,000 and Lichtenberger folded.

Steve Schult: Let’s start with your flop sizing. You down-bet (bet less than your preflop amount). It seems as if the smaller sizing is becoming all the rage lately. Why did you down-bet on this board and what types of boards are you down-betting on?

Dylan Linde: Basically, the reason behind the smaller sizing is that you’re going to size smaller when you’re c-betting (continuation betting) with more of your range. So, on a board like K-5-3 rainbow, I’m the preflop raiser and [Lichtenberger] hasn’t three-bet, I can eliminate a lot of very strong hands from his range. I can also put a lot of pressure on him. This also gives you a very good price to peel check-raises that have some strong backdoor equity.

He’s going to have a fairly wide defense range when I make it 2.2X preflop. You can put a lot of pressure on hands like 9-8, 10-9, you know. All those random middling cards that have little to no equity. I can do that with my entire range. To do that, I only need to make it a very small size.

SS: How often are you going to be c-betting this? What types of bluffs are you going to have compared to what value hands are you going to have? Are you ever checking this board?

DL: I’ll be c-betting about one-third pot close to 100 percent of the time because my opening range from the hijack is going to be fairly narrow compared to his defense range. Thus, like the king-high board is pretty much all over my opening range. Not only because I have a lot of strong K-x, but I also have a lot of the pairs that are between pocket sevens and queens, which he doesn’t necessarily have that many of. So, I can start to extract value from his flopped bottom pairs, gutshots, and ace-highs. These types of hands that are going to want to peel.

If you bet large in this situation, you are narrowing his continuing range down to only K-x. What you’d rather do is keep his range wide so that he has a better price to peel against your stronger preflop range. You want him to put money in with his worse hands.

SS: How wide can he call the flop here? Since the board is so dry, is it easier for you to pinpoint his range?

DL: It’s a little bit easier because I can immediately get rid of his stronger hands because he didn’t three-bet preflop. So, I know he doesn’t have A-K or aces or pocket kings or pocket queens. When he doesn’t check-raise the flop, I mean, he’s still going to slow play a small amount of hands, but I think he’s more likely to check-raise a hand like 5-3. So he’s still going to continue with pretty much any pair, most of his ace-highs, all of his ace-highs that have a backdoor like A-10 or A-J. They are certainly going to continue for a third pot. He’s going to have every combination of 7-6 and 6-4. It depends on how wide he’s defending.

SS: On the turn, you bet bigger in relation to the pot on the turn than you did on the flop. Walk me through why you bet bigger on the turn?

DL: In general, the five pairing on the turn should favor him. He’s going to have a lot more 5-x than I am. What happens is, on the turn, I am still able to value bet a lot of my hands. I choose a more moderate sizing. It’s larger than my flop size because the purpose of the flop size is to use my entire range and fold out a lot of his stuff like J-10. These kinds of things have already folded immediately.

Now when I bet again, I need to bet a little bit larger to take away, to make him just so he’s not indifferent to calling with 7-6 in a spot like this. I also want to still charge his K-x, his A-3 and his ace-highs before they get to the river. So, even though the five is a worse card for me than it is for him, in general, I still need to value that with some hands. That’s why I didn’t go with a big sizing, which I normally would in that scenario. Something around like 66 to 100 percent pot. Because he has so much more 5-x than me.

Hand 2

Concepts: Choosing the best portion of your range to bluff-catch

The Action: Dylan Linde raised to 275,000 from the cutoff, Milos Skrbic called from the small blind and Andrew Lichtenberger called from his big blind. The flop was QHeart Suit 9Spade Suit 5Club Suit and the action checked around. The turn was the 4Diamond Suit. Skrbic led out for 450,000, Lichtenberger folded and Linde called. The river was the 6Spade Suit and Skrbic bet 1,185,000. Linde used a time extension button before calling. Skrbic showed pocket aces and Linde mucked his hand.

SS: Starting with preflop, I wanted you to comment on Skrbic’s call out of the small blind. Some cash game players advocate for playing a three-bet or fold strategy out of the small blind. Has this strategy filtered into tournaments?

DL: I think it was part of the tournament meta-game for quite a while. The main difference between tournaments and cash games in this aspect is that preflop raising tends to be a bit smaller in tournaments. Also, with the inclusion of big blind ante, the ante-to-blind ratio is quite here so there’s many hands that, even though your range can be somewhat narrowed by not three-betting, you’re still going to be able to realize your equity or a very good price.

There are definitely hands, I think, that you can put into a small blind range and it’s not that difficult to balance with some traps.

SS: You’re three-handed to the flop and the action checks through. This flop is somewhat dry. When you check, does this mean your hand, generally, has some sort of showdown value? Or are you just giving up here with some of your hands?

DL: Yeah, I’m definitely giving up some of the time. Because of the way that a lot of small blind flats are constructed, a Q-9 texture board. Or a board containing two middle high cards like Q-J, J-10 or J-9 style board. They all favor a small blind flatting range or at least like what people usually put into their small blind flatting range.

You see a lot of J-10 suited, K-J, K-10 suited, Q-J. Therefore, in those scenarios, I’m going to have a lot more hands that are going to want to play for two streets of value, as opposed to three and a few more slow plays to allow them to overplay their perceived range advantage. I’m going to have a fair amount of give-ups as well or delayed c-bets or things of that nature.

SS: When Skrbic leads the turn, Lichtenberger folds and you call. Are you generally in bluff-catch mode here? Once you call, what kind of rivers are you hoping for and which ones are you hoping to avoid?

DL: Here, because of my hand in this moment, I remember I had a weaker top pair in my range. As far as getting back to my strategy on the flop, it’s a hand where I was looking to get two streets of value. Bluff catching or value betting twice if it checks around to me again.

Once Milos leads out, he could have a 8-7 style hand. Things that I would be most worried about on the river would be like a ten, an eight, a king. They are all going to be fairly large trouble cards for me because Milos could be value betting, you know Q-10. He could be semi-bluffing with K-J. He could have J-10. These are all things that I’ve put square in his range just from the way that he played his hand preflop and the fact that he is flatting the small blind as opposed to raising because he could be choosing to just take a more passive strategy against the other person with a lot of chips.

SS: Walk me through your thought when you face that large river bet?

DL: It wasn’t a substantial amount like it was an overbet. I basically was thinking that Milos is a very capable player. I do block his best value betting hand which is K-Q, but he’s definitely going to have pocket nines some amount that he doesn’t three-bet…. He will have pocket fives. I don’t think he will ever three-bet those. And he will have a bit of 8-7 that he chooses to play this way on the turn.

The river still leaves him with a fair amount of very good bluff candidates. Like K-10 and K-J specifically. And J-10 is also a fairly good one as well. In the end, I had to think about it for a while, but I felt like my hand was too far up in my range. Especially once I checked the flop back, so he’s going to be attacking with a lot of hands with little to no showdown value in this scenario.

Hand 3

Concepts: Using a big river sizing with value bets when you are likely to have many bluffs in your range as well.

The Action: Milos Skrbic raised to 550,000 on the button and Dylan Linde defended his big blind. The flop was KDiamond Suit KClub Suit 8Club Suit and Linde checked. Skrbic bet 400,000 and Linde called. The turn was the QSpade Suit and both players checked. The river was the KSpade Suit and Linde bet 2,000,000. Skrbic called. Linde showed QHeart Suit 5Heart Suit and Skrbic mucked.

SS: You check-called the flop with queen-high and no backdoor draws. Just walk me through your thought process. How wide are you going to be floating this flop?

DL: At this point in time, he had been giving a tiny amount of walks, but with the big blind ante the way it is, really, one way or another we should probably be playing most hands. With that thought in mind when he raises, and on this K-K-8 board, I expect him to be c-betting this board near 100 percent of the time. He might have some check backs, especially when he bets the one-third pot sizing. He might have some check backs, but I think his check backs would be a lot of hands with showdown value.

I think that my hand has enough equity for me to continue. A lot of times when my hand is best, I might have a hard time showing it down, but there will be a lot of runouts where he’s just not going to continue to bluff.

SS: When action checks through on the turn, how confident are you that your hand is good at this point?

DL: Like 100 percent. I think he’s always going to value bet a hand like pocket aces again and I don’t think he’s going to slow a king that often. He might a little bit, but I think most of his slow plays are going to be boats already.

SS: On the river, you decide to lead out for 2,000,000. Why did you decide to lead as opposed to check and try and pick off a bluff?

DL: On the turn, I’ve determined that a lot of his range when he checks back is going to be mostly give-ups. And none of the give-ups are going to try and bet again on the king because that is a textural blank. And his other hands are hands that are trying to get to showdown and trying to get to showdown cheaply and are worried about a check-raise on the turn.

I think in his mind, the queen isn’t a huge worry. I’m also going to have a fair amount of hands that need to bluff at this point. Because I am floating with Q-5 suited, I’m going to be floating with a lot of hands that have cards above an eight as well. Some 10-9s, J-10s and things like that. Things that didn’t find a check-raise the flop, but still called because of pure price and still had some reasonable equity against what I think his preflop and c-betting range will amount to. When I have this fair amount of bluffs and I don’t have a ton of value, my sizing will be pretty large. So, I went with near pot size.

Photo Credit: WPT/Joe Giron