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  • ICM Fold?

    Posted by fivebyfive on July 12, 2020 at 11:15 am

    So we’re down to three players in an ACR tourney. First place is $425. Second is $305. Third is $175. Stacks are as follows: short stack (button) has 9 bb. SB has everyone covered with 26 bb. I’m in the BB with 21 bb. Button folds, SB raises to 2 bb. I call with Qc8c.

    Flop comes AsQh8s. SB checks. I lead for 2.5 bb into pot of 4.5. I’m targeting any ace or spade draw and maybe some sticky Qs. Sb shoves.

    This is a snap call for me in normal play. Is it still here given the short stack and ICM implications?

    taylormaas replied 4 years ago 5 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • yamel

    July 12, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Without doing ICM math, seems like the hands you are targeting automatically push when you bet over a third of the SB remaining stack. If it’s an ICM fold, I would think that pre-flop, but once we hit as hard as we can given our starting hand, I don’t think I can fold given the pot odds. Even if we lose we still have a playable stack.left over. This is better than targeting the large stack that can eliminate us from tournament. So I think I call, but wonder what others would do for sure.

    • fivebyfive

      July 12, 2020 at 12:03 pm

      To be clear, the shove was from the big stack, so this is for our tournament life. (IRL, I called, and SB turned over A8 and I exited in third. I think I have to call here, but curious about thoughts).

      • yamel

        July 12, 2020 at 12:48 pm

        Ah I confused the short stack there – in this case, you have to wonder if you can fold into 2nd place and/or get it in against the short stack in a better spot. Once we decide to defend it’s hard to do better than 2 pair though. I’d be really torn in this spot…curious how you would run the ICM math to help.

  • arw

    July 12, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    The 9 bb, 21 bb, and 26 bb stacks have 16%, 37%, and 46% of the chips in play respectively. When the prize pool is $425, $305, and $175, this next hand has a pay-ladder of $130.

    According to ICM,

    • The 9 bb stack is worth ~ $245
    • The 21 bb stack is worth ~ $320
    • Th 26 bb stack is worth ~ $339

    The action:

    • The flop is As Qh 8s
    • You have Qc8c for bottom two pair.
    • On the flop, you lead for 2.5 bb into 4.5 bb and the big stack shoves.

    With bottom two pair, you lose to:

    • sets (AA, QQ, 88) — where combos are (3 + 1 + 1)
    • two pairs (AQ, A8, Q8) — where combos are (6 + 6 + 4)


    With bottom pair, you’re ahead of:


    • one-pair aces (AK, AJ, AT, A9, A7) — 12 combos each
    • gut-shots (KJ, KT, JT) — 16 combos each
    • flush draws (KQss, JTss) — 1 combo each

    After looking at these ranges, the value range has ~21 combos and the bluffing range has ~ 110 combos. To me, this makes it very very difficult for me to lay down Q8 on this flop. This seems like a cooler that I just won’t get away from very often. There is some merit in folding because Q8 two pair is the absolute bottom of the value range on this board and if you’re beat, you likely have few outs. The drawing hands have between 4 – 12 outs to beat you on the turn and river.

    • Q8 vs AA is drawing dead
    • Q8 vs QQ is drawing dead
    • Q8 vs AQ is drawing to an 8
    • Q8 vs A8 is drawing to a Q

    Last comment,

    If the big stack is competent and playing for the win, he/she may be using “leverage” to force extra folds because he/she understands ICM and how to push people around. The idea is to apply pressure and force opponents to make a decision for all their chips. With lots of money on the line and time invested, most people don’t take marginal spots. The big stack may be raising wider and because he/she knows that mind is on the $$$. If my opponent is making this play, this might impact whether I shift to a call or fold.

    This is a great hand to take a look at. After thinking about it…I’m confident that you would see me at the WSOP Main Event tanking at least 5 minutes and then eventually laying it down. The big stack applies pressure well and it makes Ideally, I would want to conserve chips, stay in 2nd position, and apply pressure in a better spot.


    • fivebyfive

      July 12, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      This is such a good analysis. In the moment, I happily called, it was only in retrospective that I really considered this a mistake. Villain ultimately had A8. And I exited in third.

      Ultimately, I think this may be a fold. You’re absolutely right, this is dead bottom of our value range. Which is where it gets tough. If V is capable of doing this with something like AJ (no spade), then good on ya. And some opponents will use their stack and leverage to do that. But many Vs aren’t capable. In many cases, especially at these lower stakes, I’m up against a lot of better and a lot of high equity draws. After a fold, I’m still firmly in second place with 16.5 bb. I’m not sure I’m always capable in game of letting this go, but I think I can wait for a better spot.

  • binkley

    July 12, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Even though SB covers you, there is a lot of ICM pressure on them as well. Doubling you up and going from 26BB down to 5BB should make the SB be very cautious with a shove.

    This is tricky because the playing styles of both the SB and short stack really affect this decision.

    Not every player uses ICM considerations in their play. Does SB check jam with AK, AJ, AT? With a bluff?

    Is the short stack waiting for hands and getting blinded out? Or are they in their battling? At 9BB, it just takes one double up to move up to second.

    I would have probably called. But I can see folding being better if you had additional information.

  • taylormaas

    July 12, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    I think binkley hit on a big point here, they can’t apply that much ICM pressure on us because they only cover us by a small amount. Also, the short stack is short, but not incredibly short.

    With a hand this strong, I don’t think I can find a fold. When I first read this, I mistakenly thought you only had middle pair which would be an easy fold. But having a hand that dominates so many top pair combos, and if we win we can virtually lock up first place, this is a call IMO.

    A call, but not one that we ever should be excited to make. By playing this pot, the ICM of each persons stack will end up less than their combined ICM at the moment. Said another way, the short stack gains A TON of equity here which takes away equity from both you and your opponent. There’s so many reasons to avoid playing hands vs other big stacks in big ICM spots.

  • yamel

    July 12, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Interesting comments on the math and player profiles. Given that ICM pressure is comparable, should this be a push when SB checks to us on flop. Beating him to the push gets us more fold equity and puts them in a tough spot. Or is it a fold preflop? Just wondering if either line is better.

  • fivebyfive

    July 13, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Yeah, I’m wondering about a check back on the flop too. Even if SB would lead most turns, it will be small. We may end up in the same place by the river, but there are runouts where I can get away and maybe that lead doesn’t accomplish much. We’re not really folding any of the hands we’re scared might draw out on us.

  • taylormaas

    July 14, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    So ICM of your stack, at the moment is $320. If you win the hand, your ICM goes to $390 and if you lose it goes to $175 — and if you fold it goes to $305. Just based on this, you will need to win the hand 61% of the time to justify the call from an ICM perspective. Notice how GROSSLY different this is from our chip EV calculations.

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