The ICM in poker stands for Independent Chip Model, a concept closely linked to online poker. The calculation of the ICM in poker has a lot to do with concepts that are usually handled when delving into aspects of dynamics and probabilities, such as equity, being a term that is not explored until you enter fully into the field of mathematics.
Although poker is fundamentally a card game, its strong strategic component and multiple variables make it a game where the real queens are mathematics, forcing the player to learn new concepts that he may not have heard before and improving his visual perception, expanding his knowledge of statistics and probability and evolving his study of body language. The three bases that every great poker player has been fulfilling until today.
Broadly speaking, we can say that the IMC tries to establish a relationship between the poker chip stack and the cash that is handled in tournaments and sit & go games. The calculation is carried out using complex mathematical formulas, delegating these activities to machines capable of handling advanced algorithms that allow to calculate it automatically.
Precisely for this reason, because of the enormous complexity involved and because it is not an easy concept to assimilate, an ICM calculator is almost always used to calculate its exact value.
It is no longer a matter of knowing more or less mathematics or of being able to handle more or less variables during the games: knowing how to calculate the MCI requires skills within the reach of very few, which is why it was decided to develop programs with specific software to calculate the MCI. In poker, mathematics plays a fundamental role at many levels and the ICM is probably one of the greatest expressions of pure mathematics in this game and it is useful to know it in order to deepen the dynamics of the game.
But is the MCI of any use to the player? Actually, yes, since it allows to make more correct decisions during the game and minimizes the probability of making big mistakes that leave us with a very limited stack.
The ICM in poker becomes especially important in tournaments, when there is a real risk of being eliminated in one of the rounds. This is precisely why ICM is not used at tables such as cash games, where the player can reload and leave the table at any time. The ICM in poker is closely linked to survival in elimination rounds, and that is why it is common to find an ICM calculator on screen during broadcasts of international competitive tournaments.
The real function of the ICM in poker is to be useful when playing with the highest possible equity for each hand. It is also widely used during online tournament deals, where a large amount of money is at stake and many times the players propose to the director a deal between the players who are still active.
The purpose of these pacts is to reduce the variance, another of the most complex concepts linked to the most numerical part of poker. Although it is usual that a part of the pot is reserved for the winner of the tournament, almost all the distribution is carried out taking into account the ICM.
Within the more automated part of poker there are different types of systems that perform the calculation of the ICM. In poker, including some high-level tournaments and competitions, these automated systems are allowed. For that reason, having an ICM calculator is elementary to know its exact value and allow players to have a higher equity.
But there is not only one type of ICM calculator: there are different versions that handle different algorithms to give the exact value. These programs make it possible to give the exact cash value of each player’s stack, the ultimate goal of the ICM: to convert the stack (i.e. chips) into a real numerical value, i.e. a certain amount of money. A data that can be given for information purposes only or can be applied to change the course of the game, such as the aforementioned pacts and the consequent readjustments of the strategy.
Any player who is training to improve his game and wants to become a professional in the future, should begin to familiarize himself with these concepts and start using automated ICM calculation tools. Free ICM calculators capable of performing the calculation on the fly with great accuracy can be obtained through the major Internet search engines. Poker ICM Calculator, for example, allows you to obtain the real value of the ICM in games with up to 15 players. It is one of the most downloaded for the accuracy and speed with which it performs the calculations.
The ICM serves to give a value to the chips of each player during a poker tournament, which allows to play with a higher equity and make adjustments in the strategy to improve it.
Knowing the value of the stack is also very useful to make deals with the active players in the most critical phases of the tournament with the director’s authorization, and to improve the game in professional games it is very helpful to use the appropriate tools to do so.
However, unlike other poker concepts, players do not necessarily have to know how to handle all the variables that have something to do with the ICM. In fact, it is common at the gaming tables not to know how the ICM is calculated, since this value is often provided to the table through the use of systems that incorporate advanced algorithms.
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