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Discussion Thread: How to make the correct decision without an ICM program?

    • Boomer2k10
      Joined: 22.09.2010 Posts: 2,551
      Today we've shown you an ICM-related spot from a 180-man SNG. There are 34 players left and you hold A7o in the small blind:

      This is one of those spots where you know you have a close decision, thus you base your play on your ICM intuition.

      Let us now calculate the above hand in one of the popular ICM-programs - the ICMIZER.

      If you perform a detailed ICM calculation you can see that this hand - under given circumstances - is a fold. You can call here with, approximately, the top 10% of your range.

      However, it's good to know that using a sophisticated program is not the only way to evaluate your decision in such spots. In our new lessons we've shown you how to approach these situations in order to gain a full understanding of the reasoning behind your actions.

      In the lesson "Playing Preflop: Calling and Isolating All-Ins" we've shown you three steps you should follow when facing an all-in:
      --> calculating the chip equity needed
      --> adjusting for risk premium and overcallers
      --> assigning a range

      It is always best to base your calculation on player-specific reads and risk-premium considerations in the exact stack setup you are facing. However, from a practical standpoint, it is very difficult to perform detailed calculations every time you are facing such a spot. With time, you will develop the right intuition. Until then, it is good to have a shortcut for default, readless, average spots. That is why we've created the lesson "Preflop Strategy: calling and isolating all-ins charts", giving you average information you may use in case of no other reads.

      Let's find out now how this lesson may help you to deal with our example.

      First, you need to calculate the chip equity needed (the equity you need to have a +cEV call). To do that, you need to divide the amount that you need to invest in the call (5650) by the size of the pot including your call (12900).

      Chip equity needed = 5650 / 12900 = ~0.44 = 44%

      Secondly, you need to adjust for risk premium by adding the estimated risk premium to the calculated chip equity needed. To do this, you may use one of the tables from the lesson in question. As mentioned, there are 34 players left, so you can choose the closest number from the chart:

      That means that the equity needed to call profitably increases to 44% + 8.8% = 52.8%.

      Last thing you need to do in this step is to adjust for the possibility that one (or more) of the players behind you calls as well (in the example it would be the BB). As you saw in the lesson, to allow for that in your calculation, it is advisable to add an arbitrary adjustment of 0.5% per each player left to act to the previously calculated equity threshold. In our example, that leads to the final result of 52.8% + 0.5% = 53.3% equity needed to call an all-in.

      Third step is to assign the pusher a range that he is likely to go all-in with. Again here you may use one of the tables from the lesson. Your opponent pushes all-in from the BU on a stack of 10 big blinds, so his estimated range is about top 40% of hands:

      The very last step is to compare the equity of the hand you hold against the range of hands that you assigned to the villain, with the calculated equity threshold warranting a profitable call. If your equity is better than the threshold, you should call/reraise. Otherwise, you should fold.

      In the recurring example, the following hands: 66+, A8s+, KJs+, A9o+ (11% of all hands) have more than 53.3% equity against the estimated pushing range. You should call if you hold one of these hands, otherwise you should fold.

      Of course, you may also use one of our simplified charts to get the estimated outcome:

      As you can see, the result provided by our "method" is very close to the one calculated by the ICMIZER. This outcome proves that our charts - although being a kind of a simplification - may give you valuable results and help you to hone your ICM intuition.

      Enjoy our new content, best of luck at the tables!
  • 1 reply
    • tonypmm
      Joined: 11.01.2009 Posts: 4,823
      Bump for discussion. Do regs really memorise all those charts, simplified from impossible to barely possible to remember, when opponents' ranges deviate from Nash so often and vastly? Isn't it better to make some slightly -EV calls in close spots vs a particular reg just to show him down more often and take notes on his pushing range (and misrepresent our calling range) to be used in future encounters?