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What Is ICM and How Does It Work?


Chip stacks and payouts are the two bits of information you will need so that you can use the ICM in poker. Simply put, you’re calculating the odds of each possible combination of finishing position in relation to yourself and the opposition.

To work out the odds of each player placing first, you work out the percentage of their chips in relation to all the chips in play. If four players have 50 of the 500 chips and three have 100 each, then the four players have a 10% chance of winning while the other three have a 20% chance. Unfortunately, this is the simplest kind of calculation in the ICM. However, thanks to newly introduced technology such as the ICMIZER, players can now use solvers to help simplify other calculations. 

Professional players who understand ICM efficiently will work out different scenarios in the game, such as the chances of player 1 ending third, player 2 ending first and player three ending second. It may seem daunting at first, but the more you practice, the clearer it becomes. As far as poker theory goes, it’s one of the most technical but useful tools out there. 

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