It’s important to note that making a deal based on ICM isn’t mandatory—it’s simply a logical way to calculate chip value.
Are you willing to put it all on the line and gamble?
Do you feel like you’re a stronger player than the rest of the table?
Then ICM may not be the way to go. Of course, it’s in your best interest to maximize profit while minimizing loss.
Use of ICM depends on multiple factors:
- Prize pool (Is this a life-changing amount of money to you?)
- Bankroll (Can you afford the variance?)
- How significant is your edge? (Hint: it’s likely smaller than you’d think, especially in fast structures or when the average stack is 30bb or less).
On the one hand, if money is a priority, variance is high and EV is low, you should lean toward making a deal.
For instance, when I made back-to-back Final Tables at the Bellagio, first place was roughly $100,000. At the time, I was regularly playing a minimum of $50/$100 NL, so I could afford the variance. I also felt like I had a significant edge in the field, because I was so accustomed to playing short-handed poker from the millions of hands I played online.
I decided against making a deal and opted to play it out. I’m glad I did. I won both events.
On the other hand, if the remaining prize pool is relatively small compared to your bankroll and you feel like you have a significant edge, consider playing the tournament out.
With four people left in the World Poker Tour, first place was over $1,000,000; whereas, fourth place paid roughly $250,000. The variance was insanely high and anything could happen. While making a deal wasn’t an option given the circumstances, I wished it were because I could have locked up over a half-million-dollar payday and ‘gambled’ for an amount that was less significant, as well as the title.
It was unfortunate because I lost a massive flip for the chip lead to the eventual winner and wound up busting in fourth.