Dominik Nitsche Talks About The Independent Chip Model


Dominik Nitsche Talks About ICM

If you’ve been playing poker for a while now, you’ve probably heard the term ICM aka Independent Chip Model. In this article, 4-time WSOP bracelet winner and with $19 million in lifetime earnings, Dominik Nitsche, will explain the concept of ICM and how it works!

What Is ICM?

Nitsche says, “Simply put it’s a model that helps us make better tournament decisions by assigning a $ value to everyone’s stack,”.

He says that in cash games it’s easier to understand that the only thing that matters is accumulating more chips.

“In tournaments that’s far from the truth.”

The basic principle, Nitsche says, is that you shouldn’t play a poker tournament like a cash game!

“It’s about passing up those marginal spots and overall trying not to bust. Busting tournaments is what really hurts you.”

This is because in tournaments, if you’re out, you’re out! There’s zero chance of winning any money without a stack and if you do have a stack, you’ll always have a chance.

ICM and Maths

Most people believe that to fully understand ICM, you need to be good at math. But Nitsche disagrees and says that’s far from the truth.

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Nitsche says, “It’s all about practice. Like with everything it’s practice that makes perfect and since the math is best figured out away from the tables you don’t need to be a genius! No one is running precise ICM calculations on the fly!”

Even though ICM is a very important concept in tournament poker, it doesn’t really come into play until we’re closer to the bubble. But during the bubble, your short stack could potentially turn into a guaranteed min. cash in the blink of an eye!

ICM On Final Tables

Dominik says that final tables are all about ICM but warns that ICM isn’t always perfect.

“It’s the best model we have, but at final tables it gets tricky because ICM isn’t perfect. According to ICM, tons of professionals make crazy mistakes on final tables. Sometimes there can be reasons to slightly deviate but usually, it’s best to follow ICM guidelines and not go crazy!”

 He says that ICM really has a big influence on all decisions. At a final table I simply don’t play my usual “win all the chips style ” and rather focus on playing the tournament.”

Different Scenarios On Final Tables

Here’s a scenario that Nitsche put together to help with your ICM knowledge

There are two short stacks on the final table. You’re second in chips and the runaway chip leader who has just shoved on you. This is a classic situation where you simply do not want to bust out. Yet, there are a lot of players who are just too happy to call off loose!

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The correct play in such a situation? It really depends on all the stack sizes and payout structures but Nitsche says, “People call all ins too happily. That’s the definition of ICM suicide.” Dominik Nitsche recommends people to use holdem resources

“They have a free calculator that can convert final table stacks to ICM $ value,” says Nitsche. “I’d recommend running a couple stack size and payout distributions to get a feel for how much each stack is worth. Once you’ve mastered this you can start by practicing icm push/fold on icmizer.”

ICM is certainly one of the most important concepts in poker and we recommend everyone who wants to play at higher levels to practice and get better at understanding the Independent Chip Model!

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