# ICM Calculator

ICM (Independent Chip Model) is a model that helps calculate the real value of chips in tournament poker. Basically, it is the conversion of chips into a real monetary equivalent.

In the poker world, there is a special mathematical model known as ICM, which is used in the later stages of tournaments to calculate the potential prize money of each player.

It is unrealistic to make all the necessary calculations in your head during the game process. It is much easier to use a special calculator, where you just need to enter the data and immediately get ready-made information.

ICM calculators are used to work on the game outside the tables, but you do not need to memorize all the results that they give. The main task is to understand the essence of the ICM concept itself. The model will help you make better decisions at the table when you need to understand whether to play a call, push or fold.

## What is ICM (Independent Chip Model) ?

The abbreviation ICM stands for Independent Chip Model. The purpose of this model is to show the ratio between the value of the entry fee, i.e. the buy-in, and the chips in the tournament.

At different stages of MTT and SNG tournaments, the value of players' stacks will differ. Let's look at this concept with an example to make it clearer.

### Example Of ICM Calculation

1. You registered for a tournament with a $100 buy-in and a starting stack of 10,000 chips. $90 of your buy-in went to the prize pool, and $10 went to the poker room as a commission (rake). There are 100 participants in the tournament, the guaranteed prize pool is $9,000. At the start of the tournament, it is quite easy to calculate the value of your starting stack: $9,000 : 100 = $90.

2. Let's say you reached the final table and only 9 players remain in the game. Your stack contains 300,000 chips, which is actually equal to 30% of their total number in the tournament. The prize pool is divided as follows: 1st place - $3,000, 9th place - $200. Despite the fact that your stack was previously valued at $90, now its value has changed significantly and has become much higher, and all thanks to the fact that now we are much closer to the main prize.

In general, the principle is that the closer a player is to the final table and first place, the more expensive his chips are according to ICM. This is exactly how it works in tournaments, which may sound unusual for cash game players, because here $1 in the stack will always be equal to $1.

Another important aspect of ICM that you need to understand is that the value of the chips we win will always be less than those we lose. Let's take an example from the tournament above.

If in one of the first hands of the tournament you decide to go all-in against your opponent and double your stack, this will not double your chances of winning. Yes, you will have a bigger stack, but in general, given that the tournament will last for a long time, and there are a lot of opponents left in the game, you should not evaluate this doubling as a huge advantage. At the same time, if you lose in this all-in at the start, you lose all your chips and your buy-in and get eliminated from the tournament.

## When and how ICM is used in poker

In essence, the ICM model can be considered a kind of universal tool for finding the right decision from a mathematical point of view when playing any kind of tournament poker. It is usually used in situations when we need to decide whether to play push or fold.

At the final table or on the "bubble", when there are only a few eliminations left to the prize places, the usefulness of the ICM is impressive. You can understand when it is better to refuse unreasonable risk and increase your chances of getting into the money.

The principle of applying the ICM model at the final table of any tournament can consist of two main components:

- Helps assess each player's prospects if the tournament continues
- Suggests a fair distribution of prizes if the participants decide to make a deal

Many poker rooms today have a built-in functionality for calculating the prize pool between all participants based on ICM.

The benefits of the ICM model are especially obvious in satellites - a type of tournament where tickets to other events act as a prize pool. Let's look at a simple example:

We are playing a satellite tournament. Tickets from the prize pool will only go to the first 5 places, and there are 7 participants left in the game. We have the second-largest stack. There are several short stacks at the table from 2 to 5 blinds. Even if we are dealt "AA" and we get a push from the tournament chip leader, who covers us, then according to ICM it will be optimal to throw away our aces.

The fact is that in this case, a doubled stack will not bring us a ticket, but a loss leads to elimination from the tournament, which significantly increases the chances of one of the short stacks to get into the prizes.

With all this, you should not perceive ICM as an ideal tool. It is important to understand that this model does not take into account the positions of players, the size of the blinds, or the skill level of your opponents. The goal is to use ICM only as a tool for in-depth study and understanding of the basic concepts of tournament poker variations.

## Players' questions about ICM

### Why do you need an ICM calculator?

The ICM calculator is a simple tool that allows you to quickly convert tournament chips into money equivalents. You do not have to make complex calculations in your head.

### When can I use the ICM model?

When playing deep stacks, the model is not relevant. It is used only for the middle and late stages of the tournament, when you mostly have “push or fold” decisions.

### What poker formats ICM is suitable for?

It will be relevant for MTT and other possible variations of tournament poker, such as Sit&Go and Spin&Go.

### Should I always follow ICM?

In the case when you need to make a decision without any information on your opponents, the model will be useful. However, it ignores the players positions, their skill level and the sizes of the blinds. In poker you should always try to make the best decision based on all the information you have. So consider ICM calculations as an addition to other information known at a current stage of the tournament. Analyze all available data to make better decisions at the table.