Situation time

It’s shortly after the bubble in a small 14-player MTT.

Stacks are:

Leader: 46k
You: 24k
Bottom: 10k

Blinds are 1k/2k. You find yourself in the SB, so , already in for 1k, when you wake up with 99. Bottom stack is in the BB seat, Leader is on the Button, and checks the action back to you.


  • What’s your action preflop?
  • What do you do in response to a raise from either seat?
  • Do you call if the Bottom stack jams?
  • Do you call if the Dealer raises you all-in, or close to it?

I am assuming this is final table with only 3 left, since I can’t imagine a 14 player MTT would pay more than 3 spots. So I’d assume that the players knew something about the other’s tendencies and that tends to change the way I play. Preflop in the SB with a limp by the button, I’d probably put in a minimum raise hoping to get folds (assuming they have figured out I mean it when I raise). If the bottom stack jams and the leader folds, I’ll call. If the leader is still in the hand after a jam by the BB, I’ll fold. Luckily, in this scenario, the SB is in position :slight_smile: If I haven’t established the right table image, or were facing more players, I’d probably try to limp 99, but 3-handed at that stage of the game, it is a much stronger hand.

Yes, as stated this is post-bubble, and this is at the final table. The MTT paid out to the top 3.

Jam everytime, regardless of the action.

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Ok, but why?

List the payouts and we’ll toss it through ICMIZER or HRC to find the most profitable action. In addition, it will show all other hands that you can profitably call or shove with and the EV’s of each hand.

1st: 655,000
2nd: 399,000
3rd: 266,000

Great - I’ll get back to this when I have a few minutes. You can go to if you want to try and do it yourself. It would probably be a good idea for you to get familiar with this program. The free trial version gives you 1 ICM calculation per day. I suggest taking advantage of that. In very short order you will see patterns emerging as to which hands are profitable in which situations.

ICMizer says it’s +0.92 for me to shove 99 with the Button limping.

What actually happened, I raised to 12k, BB folded, Button raised to 24k. I re-raised all-in, and got destroyed by QQ.

ICMizer says I should have folded to the raise. I can’t argue. I can only assume if I shove 99 instead of raise to 1/2 my stack, Button still calls, and the outcome of this specific hand is unchanged.

I’m not worried about the specific hand outcome, but was trying to get some idea if my action preflop was reasonable. I did think about shoving, and given the raise size I chose committed me to the pot, I probably should have, or been willing to fold to that raise.

Since I haven’t used ICMizer before, I’m unclear whether it only can recommend push/fold, or if it can recommend a middle path option.

first i’ll start with a general answer.
you mentioned the BTN checks back to you, but since he’s the BTN and cannot check i assume you meant limping. when i play short stacked generally always shove or fold when 10BB’s or less. you have 12 BB’s so a little more space, but 10-15 i still shove/fold the vast majority but there is a little more room for something like a min raise if the situation is right. however this one is not imo, you have a limper, which already increases the pot size and make 12 BB an even better shove size. you have a hand that plays great preflop but very bad postflop, this is because you almost always face 1 or more overcards, in other words you have to ‘gamble’ on the flop, with the addition that V doesn’t have to, he can still fold if he misses and call if he hits, meaning he gets all information and you none, even if you check and wait you still know nothing cuz he could bluff cuz you checked or het bets cuz he actually has it. as for folding, that also out of the question because you still have a very strong hand, and if you wait for even better hands you are most likely blinded out before you even find one, especcialy 3h, and even if you do and even win it you still are most likely in a worse stack then you’re now.

now your specific questions:
1: shoving 100% of the time for the reasons given above
2: i would still shove, the BTN has to raise a wide range of hands in order not to blind out and because hand value goed up as lesser players are on the table, meaning you are still far ahead with an even better pot size
3: cursing at myself for giving him that opportunity :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: . but serious, if i for some reason would ignore this shoving spot i hope to reconsider and do it now. the BTN has only 5BB’s with 3BB’s of dead money in the pot. so he could get a 60% stack increase if both players fold, which is actually quite likely as neither had any buseness of limping there so i would assume both are fish and go for it. even if called i still have pretty good pot odds vs a wide range of hands.
4: i still call, like mentioned the BTN should have a wide range to play with, he might have 23BB’s which means he doesn’t have to shove with his size, but since the 2nd stack (you) has 12BB’s that’s all that matters, so even though he has 23 BB’s he should still play a 12 BB stack strategy simply because he already knows thats all that can get into the pot. meaning he kinda needs the same ranges as you with the advantage of having position, meaning he should play even wider, not because of positional advantage but because of the 3h play meaning stealing widely is required and the best place to do that is on the BTN.

since you already had a stack of 24k i assume that with reraising all-in you meant calling all-in.
i which case i have to politely disagree with folding. (really don’t understand why icmizer is recommending that to be honest, have to admit i don’t know it very well but from what i’ve heard it’s quite reliable)
you have to call 12k in a pot that will become 50k. so you only need 24% to make it profitable, with icm pressure you might need a bit more but still it’s a very low %, the only way not to get that is if you knew for a fact he only plays pairs higher then 99. so TT+ would already be unlogical because if he plays TT he would most likely also play AK and AQ at the very least, even vs QQ+ and AK you still have more equity then 24%. so the only reason not to is if he only plays KK+. which is WAY too tight in a spot where you only have 12 bigs, even vs a limp raise. with those stacks it’s quite clear he wanted to get the chips in the middle with an action like that, but that’s still not meaning it could only be KK+, he could still play things like QQ (like he actually had) which means he should also have AK in his range, and even though we don’t know 100% sure it’s safe to assume TT+ and AQ are also hands he would like playing. i would probably rather raise then right away then limp raise and risking a limped pot but as played i wouldn’t be shocked either to see those plays with hands like that. not htat it’s terrible, i just would rather raise right away there unless theres a maniac on the table.
but the point is that his range should exist out of way more then just KK+ so your odds to call there are more then enough.

Glad you took a look at the program and ran the situation for yourself.

ICMIZER has several settings, cEV, $EV and %EV - which were you measuring? There’s a big difference in the outputs from cEV to the other 2.

OK, this is an error in raise sizes at these stack depths and distributions. You don’t have a lot of room to raise from a 12bb stack but you do have some. If you wanted to raise and leave yourself room to fold if BB shoved and BTN shoved over, then you could have gone to ~3bb. Same thing for if BB folded and then BTN shoved on you. You can work from a 9bb stack when there is a 5bb stack remaining. If you raise, BB shoves and BTN folds, you are of course calling off.

ICMIZER is going to run all-in scenarios - it will help with shoving ranges and call/fold ranges when facing a shove (either cold or once you have opened). There are other resources for opening ranges by position and stack depth.

There are more variables to tournament poker than can even be listed here. Its complex stuff. IMO, working on the push/fold concepts at shallow depths is essential to your success rate. People make gross errors with this all the time and spew equity all over the place. Regardless of the specific hand, the important idea to take away is that you need varying degrees of margin over raw equity numbers to make your decisions. In this example with a large, medium and small stack, the concept is easily demonstrated. The big stack can put pressure on both other stacks but mostly on the medium stack as he has the most to lose. The margin over raw equity for the medium stack to confront the big stack can be as large as 25-30%. Its not that much here because the pay jumps are so small (in terms of buyins). That would mean you would want to avoid an all-in situation with the big stack with all but the top few% of hands. Yes, it means the big stack can push you around because you are highly incentivized to outlast the short stack. The small stack has the least ICM pressure. He has the least to lose.

Anyway, live and learn. With a little study into the math of ICM and some understanding of margins required depending on stack distributions, you will gain a massive edge on almost everyone else. There is a ton to learn but this is the low hanging fruit where you can gain the most advantage with the least amount of time/effort.

Yes, BTN limped, I went to 6BB, BB folds, BTN raised to 11BB.

I mis-remembered and rounded a bit; I actually had about 25.3k, and BTN’s raise was to 22k, so just about all my chips; I saw no point in just calling if I was in, and I knew that I was in the moment I committed half my stack, I wasn’t going to back down.

Afterward, I questioned whether I should have committed half my stack there, or if I should have min-raised and gotten out of the way if the Button raised it up big. Or, if I should have just shoved rather than went to 6BB. I think shoving 99 is a correct play at the stack depths, and it’s just unfortunate I ran into QQ in this particular spot, but that doesn’t make it a bad play. The half-stack raise was a half-measure, and at this point in the game, I think half-measures look weak. Either a standard raise of 2.5-3BB or all-in would have been better.

As explained above, I was in error saying that BTN raised to 24k; he raised to 22k; I had about 3k behind, so just re-raised all-in.

I’m brand new to ICMizer, so I don’t know that I understand all that much, but it said in the face of the raise to 22k, ICMizer told me it was -0.88 for 99, and recommended to fold. I’m not sure, but I think ICMizer decided that with that raise size, BTN’s range was dominating my hand. Which, in actuality, it did. Since ICMizer had a better read on BTN’s action than I did, I can’t argue with it.

Actually, I went all-in figuring I was beat by a higher pocket pair, and it was a good read as well.

I just figured that I couldn’t continue with half my stack gone and expect to finish better than 3rd anyway, and I probably wouldn’t live to see a hand better than 99 in any case, and there was some tiny chance that BTN was bluffing, but if they had AK or KQ I could well have them, or maybe I’d suck out a set.

I know when I have QQ in this exact situation, the small pair is never not hitting a set. That’s how my luck rolls.

I don’t recall noticing the different settings, and I don’t have the tab open now, so I’m not sure. Can you explain cEV, $EV, and %EV? I don’t even know what those mean.

I can agree with that analysis now. Thank you.

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My bad

  1. cEV = chip EV. It is measuring the value of the decision strictly in terms of chips. This is used for HU SNG’s or cash games because there are no ICM considerations
  2. $EV and %EV - These are the ones you want to select from when there are ICM implications. They measure the same thing but in different units. $EV generates results in the dollar value of the decision while %EV generates results in terms of % of prize pool made/lost with the decision.
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  1. You shove. Most likely Bottom Stack folds, but if he calls with two overcards, you are favorite to beat him and knock him out. Now you attack the other player.
  2. You have already shoved.
  3. You have already shoved.
  4. You have already shoved.