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ICM in mtt's

    • Riverdiver
      Joined: 12.07.2012 Posts: 1,126
      How does ICM effect your play in early, middle, late and final stages of an mtt and how can you calculate the ICM value of your stack and how this effects your decisions?

      Easier question, where can I learn this best? :f_biggrin:
  • 4 replies
    • unshpe
      Joined: 20.05.2013 Posts: 294
      ICM affects only the final table as far as I know. It basically quantifies your risk aversion IMO , and you only have that when the payjumps are the biggest (FT and bubble maybe).

    • Asaban
      Joined: 22.09.2006 Posts: 9,180
      In general ICM is always present in tournaments. It is a factor in the very first hand and until there are 3 players left.

      However, in most cases, it is only important for the very late game (<12 left) and sometimes the money bubble itself. In all other situations (including the various payjumps) you can most of the time neglect it, since it is compensated by other factors, that are not part of the ICM calculation (f.e. future game aspects, rising blind levels, etc).

      ICM is just the concept itself. If there is no important bubble anywhere near you will normally play according to chipEV. In these situations you are only interested in the EV of your hand. As long as you make any chips in a spot on average it is +EV and you should take it (at least according to maths).

      As soon as ICM kicks in you will no longer look at the ChipEV, but will turn your attention on the so called $EV. This value tells you if a spot will not only gain you chips in addition, but also if these chips are worth any additional money. It is very possible that a spot will gain you chips on average but at the same time lose you money.

      Best example:
      A satellite
      21 players left, 20 of them will get the ticket to the desired event worth 100$.

      You are 2nd in chips with 20BB. Several players only have 1BB. The chipleader pushes first in from the SB. You find yourself with AA.

      If you call the situation itself is surely +ChipEV because you will gain chips on average (you win >80% of the times).
      At the same time you will lose 20% of the times which isn't a problem if you only look at the chipEV.

      Now lets have a look at the $EV:
      If you fold you will get the ticket for sure. There is no way you will get last if you don't play any further hands. Other players are way shorter and will be auto-allin within the next hands.
      $EV(fold) = 100$

      If you call and win you would still get the ticket. There is no bonus for getting first.
      $EV(call/win) = 100$

      If you lose however, you will suddenly get 0$.
      $EV(call/lose) = 0$

      The final result looks like this:
      80%*100$ + 20%*0$ - 100$ (if you fold)
      = 80$ + 0$ - 100$
      = -20$

      The $EV for your hand is -20% (or -20$ in this example). A call will cost you money on average. Therefore you shouldn't ever call in this situation although the call is +chipEV for itself.

      If you want to learn more about ICM I can recommend our article on ICM (to be found in the ICM strategy section):

      Furthermore there is another article specifically for tournament final tables:

      Last but not least I can recommend our videos on ICM:,bronze,silver,gold,platinum,diamond&lowerlimit=0&upperlimit=100&ob=date&od=desc&page=1&rpp=10

      If you would like to practise your ICM skills you may want to try our free ICM trainer. It can be found in the poker tools section:

      If you have any further question feel free to ask!

    • Riverdiver
      Joined: 12.07.2012 Posts: 1,126
    • BobbyPossum
      Joined: 31.07.2013 Posts: 54
      Fwiw there are icm calculators out there such as Nash and ICMizer. Helpful tools that really help with push/fold ranges and manipulating bubbles.