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Hand Evaluation: A Shut ICM Shove-or-Fold Spot at a Closing Desk
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Hand Evaluation: A Shut ICM Shove-or-Fold Spot at a Closing Desk


Nick Pupillo had a tough decision at the final table.

Protecting dwell poker tournaments for a residing affords me the chance to see numerous hundreds of arms performed out, lots of which supply attention-grabbing and doubtlessly helpful insights into how gamers — each amateurs and professionals — play the sport. On this ongoing sequence, I’ll spotlight arms I’ve seen on the tournaments I’ve lined and see if we are able to glean something helpful from them.

The Scene

Just a few months again, I obtained the task to drive just a few hours into Iowa to cowl Mid-States Poker Tour Riverside $1,100 Main Event.

Because it occurred, my good buddy Nick Pupillo would make a deep run to the ultimate desk and was nonetheless in it when six gamers remained. He’d already locked up $31,716 and was taking part in for $162K up high, so the stakes have been getting large for everybody concerned.

Whereas Pupillo had the second-shortest stack with about 2.4 million at 60,000/120,000/20,000, he was nonetheless far forward of Renato Spahiu, nursing simply 500,000 or so and about to be within the large blind.

Thus, Pupillo discovered himself in an attention-grabbing spot when Jovan Sudar, an lively participant with a giant stack, opened in entrance of him.

The Motion

Spahiu folded and Sudar, second to behave, made it 275,000 to go. The following participant folded and motion was on Pupillo on the button. He counted down his stack then shoved all in. The blinds folded however Sudar rapidly referred to as.

Sudar: {k-Diamonds}{k-Spades}
Pupillo: {7-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}

The board ran {5-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds}{10-Hearts}{10-Clubs}{q-Clubs} and Pupillo collected a sixth-place payout whereas Sudar ascended to co-leading standing with eventual winner Daniel Sepiol.

Idea and Evaluation

Within the days following this hand, Pupillo and I mentioned this hand at size together with a number of buddies as we puzzled if he stacked off too mild given how quick Spahiu was in early place. It is value wanting into because it appeared like a detailed choice given the ICM components at play.

First, let’s check out the approximate stacks left within the match, in addition to what their stacks are value in {dollars} in accordance with a free ICM calculator:

ParticipantStackWorthPresent Place
Daniel Sepiol7,700,000$108,752Massive blind
Jovan Sudar5,000,000$92,863Hijack
Jason Crews3,150,000$77,843Small blind
Kyna England2,800,000$74,384Cutoff
Nick Pupillo2,400,000$70,099Button
Renato Spahiu500,000$41,310Underneath the gun

It could shock you — it definitely did I — that Pupillo’s stack was value simply shy of third-place cash on this spot. That highlights the hazard of busting out subsequent when there is a distinction of just about $40K between his stack worth and the following payout.

That creates an attention-grabbing dynamic with Pupillo’s hand. Whereas he undoubtedly has a superb hand to shove for chips over a large opener — Sudar had raised as mild as queen-three suited in late place — what is the play given that there is an especially quick stack that may nearly definitely be all in inside the subsequent orbit?

Fortunately, there are fashions we are able to flip to as a reference in these spots that may assist cope with the ICM components and produce a beneficial play primarily based on the anticipated worth of shoving and folding. One such mannequin is ICMIZER, which presents a restricted variety of free outputs. I entered the parameters of this hand to see what the mannequin considered shoving pocket sevens right here. This is what it spit out:

ICMIZER output
In keeping with this mannequin, shoving 77 was value -$355.

The numbers below every hand are the greenback figures anticipated when shoving these arms over Sudar’s open. The mannequin believes Pupillo’s shove was a dropping one costing him a mean of -$355. The EV of a shove is $70,602 whereas the EV of a fold is $70,957.

In keeping with the mannequin, the cutoff for shoving profitably right here is kind of a bit larger as pocket tens is the weakest pair that ought to be shoved, and even that nets solely a tiny revenue of $22. The mannequin thinks he ought to be extremely selective right here, shoving solely ace-king from the offsuit arms, king-queen suited, ace-queen suited and ace-king suited together with tens-plus.

One factor to notice, nonetheless, is that the mannequin assumes Sudar is opening a GTO vary of the highest 19% of arms. That is going to be a reasonably tight vary consisting of pairs 66+, most offsuit Broadway combos, all however the weakest suited aces, A9o+ and suited arms all the way down to ten-nine and king-seven. It is fairly straightforward to think about Sudar was opening wider than that, which suggests the shove ought to win greater than the mannequin expects as a result of it wins the pot with out showdown extra typically.

Jovan Sudar
Sudar’s opening vary could also be wider than the mannequin expects.

Due to this fact, as we initially predicted, the choice appears very, very shut, in all probability not successful or dropping a lot both means.

May flatting be an choice right here? Pupillo’s stack was a bit quick to be trying to play a lot postflop, however I believe it may be higher than shoving provided that he has place on Sudar. He is definitely inviting some squeezes from the large stack within the large blind, however he’ll be a lot much less prone to lose his complete stack, and sevens do not must be a pure set mine as they may win an honest quantity unimproved.

Whereas there is not a clear-cut “proper” reply on this spot, I nonetheless suppose it is attention-grabbing to have a look at the mannequin’s output and take inventory of simply how a lot a super-short stack being current at a closing desk modifications issues. A single open by a overlaying stack immediately reduces the “appropriate” shoving vary in Pupillo’s seat to a tiny fraction of arms, simply 4%.

That is the ability of ICM when the large cash jumps are at play, and it is one thing to be cognizant in any large choice at a closing desk.

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