Sunday, February 04, 2007

SNG Bubble Strategy #5 - When to Ignore ICM

More ICM? Must be obsessive or something! Anyhow - said I would look at when to ignore ICM so here goes... there are really only 2 scenarios for this - 'Meta-Game Reasons' and when someone is close to being all in...

Meta-Game;

By this I mean making a -$ev call that will lose you money (over time) in the current SNG in order to make more money in future games. Is this possible?? Well, yes and no. If you are playing against the same opponents all the time and they are correctly pushing based on your range then maybe suprising them with a loose call could be +$ev longer term...

The result would be that they can now push less hands into you on the bubble as your assumed calling range is wider. The chips you gain from these walks adding to your stack and prize pool equity.

To be honest I do not think this works longer term for a couple of reasons. Firstly if you do it as a one-off event then people will quickly notice that you have gone back to your usual calling range, meaning any benefits will be short-lived. Secondly, people may not adjust - and importantly here you will not know whether they have or have not. For example, you make a loose call and win - next game the same opponent pushes into you again... now you should be assuming that his range beats your new looser calling range and have to fold (of course assuming you think that your opponent has considered the new information correctly). If that opponent has not considered the new info and is still pushing into you with his old looser range then your assumption that the -$ev call helped here is gone... you have painted yourself into a corner of assuming he is pushing tighter!!


All-in Or Almost All-in Situations;

Here the ICM calculators let us down... an example;

BB 3000 - $equity = 28.4
SB 2500 - $equity = 24.6
Button 4500 - $equity = 36.2
C/O 1000 - $equity = 10.8

Stacks / Equity before posting and blinds of 600/300 with 50 Ante 50/30/20 payouts, in this example you are in the SB and it is folded to you... what can you push against a BB who does not understand ICM / Bubble play??

Well running this through an ICM calculator would give you a huge range - anything from 100% vs a tight range to 65% against someone calling with top 30% only. But wait a minute... the guy currenly in the CO seat is going to blind out in the next 2 hands. It is pretty certain that he will be all in next hand (only a total novice would fold with 2/3rds of their stack already in the pot unless there were 2 all-ins ahead). So how does this affect things??

The key factor for me here is that the current BB does not understand bubble play and is likely to call you with a wide range. If the BB knew what was going on then its a near 100% pushing range from the SB and only Aces / Kings to call from the BB. He does not and the CO is 95% likely to be all-in next hand... your range needs to 'ignore' the ICM here - there is no need to gamble that equity here at all.

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Sometimes you will see forum posts talking about such decisions in terms of whether you are 'Playing to Win' or 'Playing to Cash' - the emphasis is usually that playing to win is optimal. In a comedy of errors I looked at this logic in terms of the jump from 4th to 3rd being equal in size as the jump from 2nd to 1st...

I like to think of this from another perspective, that each decision in a SNG should maximise your current $ equity, bubble decisions should be made not in terms of which place you are aiming for but in terms of the amount of this equity you are risking vs the equity reward. If you make +$ev decisions it does not matter whether you play for 1st or 3rd, you will win money over time.

The trouble with people who do not understand bubble concepts is that their play (when gambling to 'get the win') spews both their own equity and that of the opponent in the hand onto the players not in the hand. Bad calls are a fact of low-level SNG life - there is never any point complaining about them... instead factor the loose range into your shoving decisions... ICM is less than useless without being able to put those opponents onto accurate (and often horrible) ranges!!

Cheers, Mark

1 comment:

MrTynKyn said...

Hey Mark !!! great job you are doing.
I just have read your ebook , interesting , when you closed the ICM posts they should be added to your ebook as a sort a higher level .Another ... maybe should be interesting to write a little bit about the middle stage cause you have to cross it to reach the bubble . Things like steal blinds with a J8o in Button , etc.
Another , I m abusing today , what is the math formula for ICM cal?
I dont know if Im clear , How SNGPT calculates the equity ?
Thanks a lot and keep doing please

PD: glad to hear you are no longer at the 16s . One shark less :-)