If you want to catch up as a professional in the world of modern poker, one of the things you have to learn is ICM poker. If you learn to calculate correctly the ICM, you can be sure that you will start to create a good foundation. Consequently, it will be easier for you to evolve in this competitive market.

What is ICM?

The acronym refers to the Independent Chip Model. Its main objective is to know the value of each of the chips within a certain moment of the poker game.

You have to take into account that the value of a chip is not the same at the beginning of the game, in the middle or at the end of it. For that reason, more and more professionals are betting on learning how to calculate the ICM poker.

What does the ICM really measure?

There is a big difference between cash games and poker tournaments. While cash players always know what the chips are worth, tournament players don’t know for sure. This is where the ICM comes in, which allows us to know more or less what the value of each chip is at each moment of the game.

How do I calculate the ICM poker?

As we saw in this article about ICM poker, learning how it works and calculating the MSI is not an easy matter. It takes quite a bit of time and, above all, interest in learning in order to gradually achieve all the necessary calculations. However, such is the interest in the subject for poker players of all levels that we don’t have to beat our heads in making calculations, but can use an ICM calculator to help us make the calculations automatically.

On the other hand, the stack is really very important. Each prize jump makes the value of a chip to be one or the other. Depending on the number of points we have at each moment, we will have more options to jump to the next prize or not. To get an idea, the more we evolve the game, the more value we will lose when losing chips. That is to say, if we lose from 10 blinds the half, we can conclude that the movements have been a disaster. On the other hand, if we have 300 and we win the five that we have lost, we can say that it is an irrelevant move.

The objective of the ICM is to measure each stack of those left from the tournament and thus calculate the probabilities that we have of winning the tournament or staying in the different positions. Calculating the first position is the simplest, but calculating the following positions is more complicated, hence many people choose to use the calculator.

ICM example

To understand in depth how it works we will give a clear example. Let’s suppose that there are currently 4 players left in the tournament and that the tournament is 10 euros. This means that the results will be like this when it comes time to jump to the next level so that there are 3 players left:

  • 50 euros
  • 30 euros
  • 20 euros

Taking into account that, if the chipleader has half of the chips that are 5000, the shortstack 1000 and the other two 2000 each, we can conclude that, when calculating the ICM, it will be as follows:

  • 5000 chips: 37.18 euros
  • 2000 chips: 22.33 euros
  • 1000 chips: 14.17 euros

Evaluating the values obtained, which are easily available through the ICM calculator, we realize that the stack of more chips has a much higher value than the second prize. It is the value that the chips have at each moment, but this value will be modified.

Normally, the player who has more chips is more likely to win in the medium and long term more prize than those who have fewer chips.

Tricks we learn with the ICM

In reality, the ICM cannot be calculated on the fly unless we are very agile and have an ICM calculator. To understand it, the best thing we can do is to study it and use it in doubtful situations so that we can draw our own conclusions. With those conclusions it will be much easier for us to obtain our own general rules.

Actually, with the previous example and knowledge of some basic concepts it will be easier to understand the dynamics and thus be able to act properly in a poker tournament. As in everything, you have to practice and the tournaments that are televised are of great help when it comes to taking practice.

  • It is important to know that the ICM always advises better in closed call ranges in tournaments than in cash.
  • We must learn that the first card we have is the most valuable, so we have to take care of it as much as possible. Remember, doubling in points does not mean doubling the money value of the stack. That value is always less than double.
  • If we play correctly following the rules of the ICM it has more impact on the bubble than in the rest of the jumps within the interesting prizes.
  • Unless you have a big advantage over your opponents, you should avoid all-ins. Especially when there are players with far fewer chips on the table.
  • A medium stack should always prevent flips inside the bubble.
  • Normally, when we are inside the bubble it is easy for bigstacks to try to attack the medium stacks to try to eliminate them from the game.