ICM AND ADVANCED TIPS TO SHARKSCOPE SEARCHES

When playing on a final table or getting close to one, it’s crucial to open sharkscope.com and scan your opponents.

What exactly should you look for?

The most common response i hear is ’I want to know if they are reg or fish’.  Well, if you are not satisfied with this goal, please continue reading, I have some fun details for you! 😉

In my opinion the most important thing you want to know about your opponents is whether they are ICM-conscious or not. In other words: are they aware of the strategical changes dictated by the prize pool or they are ego-warriors who don’t care about money and just want to win?

’What does that matter? I just play my strategy and earn money anyway!’ – You may say.

Well, you are wrong, because ICM is a strange animal:

If your opponent punts against you in a normal (chip EV) spot, then it’s you indeed, who receives all the gifted value. However, if your opponent calls your push too light in a high pressure ICM spot, you usually lose a lot of EV (even if you are slightly ahead in the actual show down) and the passive players who sat tight benefit from the mistake your opponent made!

Let’s take an example!

The spot below is extremely favourable for the button: being the chip leader with 3 short stacks on the edge of death and 2 mid stacks to pressure.

If we simply run this spot in HRC, with any normal prize pool the button can push ANY TWO. I’m NOT saying you actually should push 32o (you do better by developing a small raise range, with your best and worst hands), but it’s worth a note that the winrate of pushing with 32o is quite significant, 0.18% of the total remaining prize pool!

Let’s see how the blinds should react to your push!

Even if they know you are in with any two, they can only call with 99+ and 88+!

Is it realistic that an average opponent folds AK/AQ/AJ to the bully of the table?

No.

Then you should adjust your strategy!

Let’s see what happens if you are up against 2 ego warriors who don’t give a fuck about ICM and call you extremely light:

If you keep applying the GTO strategy (pushing any2), all of a sudden most of your moves become massively losing plays!!

These were extreme examples, but I hope I’ve managed to convince you that approaching a final table the most important thing you want to know about your opponents is their attitude to ICM!

Now you may say ’Okay Luigi, but there is no field in Sharkscope with ‘ICM attitude’’.

Well, there is no direct info about that, but you can find a ton of data which help you build the profile of your opponent. Please keep in mind: none of the tips below are 100% accurate, but combined with each other and with the stats in your HUD they can help you a lot!

EARLY FINISH %

This tells you with what frequency the guy busts in the first 10% of the field. (Please keep in mind that re-entries may milk this number.)

I firmly believe that there is a strong correlation between early finish% and the tendency to punt on final tables.

I think there are two different roots of this behaviour. On one hand it is related to ego, being addicted to success, trying to win too many pots, making desperate bluffs, being reluctant to fold.

On the other hand many of the cash game players don’t understand the concept that winning pots early in a tournament doesn’t add too much to your ROI. So they keep pushing marginal edges, building big pots too often, making marginally plus EV moves for full stack. This results in high early finish %. If the same cash game guys get to the final table, they will probably not be spot on with ICM.  

DATE FILTERED

There might be some legit reasons to delete part of your history on SharkScope, but most of the time it’s just pure ego. Those guys are generally frustrated/insecure about their skill level, so they try to hack their graph to show results filtered for an upswing period. If you run into a guy with date filter, don’t expect him to make disciplined folds!

SMOOTH GRAPH VS SWINGY GRAPH

Quite obvious: those who are ICM-aware drive their short and mid stack to 2nd-5th place more often, therefore their graph will be smooth. While those who punt, win more frequently, but most of the time just finish with insignificant prizes, so their graph will be swingy.

Another reason of a swingy graph can be wide buyin range, see that below!

BIG GAP BETWEEN AVG ROI% AND TOTAL ROI%

This is not too reliable, but having a big gap between average ROI and total ROI might be a sign of taking too many shots, which may be a sign of having too big ego or not being disciplined.

HIGH AVERAGE BUY-IN + LOW VOLUME

If you find someone who has been active for years, but with very low volume and high buy-in, the most likely reasons are:

Cash game player who occasionally takes shots in mtt – probably not too familiar with ICM.

Businessman who hops in to high stakes tournaments – probably not to make herofolds.

LOW AVERAGE BUY-IN

If you meet someone on a final table whose average buy-in is significantly lower than the current tournament, you can usually expect one of the extremes: he can be a nit, making herofolds, never making light moves, with the sole purpose of laddering.

Or he can be a whale who punts like hell.

After a few hands you will see which extreme is true. Please note: a badbeat may turn a nit into a punter, or becoming short may turn a whale into a nit, but you will very rarely see solid, tight-aggressive strategy from these guys.

SIT&GO, SPIN AND HEADS-UP

If the sample size is big enough, I strongly advise you to run filtered searches on your opponents.

If they are successful in sit&gos, they must be very familiar with ICM.

If you happen to find out that your villain is a heads-up or spin regular, you may not get too much info about their attitude to ICM, but you can definitely expect them to defend their blind aggressively, to be familiar with limped pots, to make herocalls and thin value bets on the river.

If you are interested in other profiling tips, this earlier post of mine may interest you! 😉

If you liked the post, please help us grow by sharing with your poker friends! Thanks a lot!

Valdemar 'Luigi' Kwaysser

13 years as professional poker player 10 years experience as poker coach. Born Hungarian, living in Valencia, Spain. 36 yo, married, happy father of two. Founder of CheckDecide

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