Today you’ll be playing at a major tournament final table with significant pay jumps. There are two shorter stacks on the table with 10 and 12BBs. You have 30BBs on the Button and call an open raise from the chip leader in the Cutoff seat who has 70BBs.
Due to the presence of the short stacks and significant pay jumps there is ICM (Independent Chip Model) pressure on your stack to avoid busting out before the short stacks. Your preflop calling range on the Button should be quite narrow even though the Cutoff’s opening range is quite wide.
This same ICM pressure to avoid busting out extends to postflop play. Even though you have position on your opponent in these hands, you should generally play passively. You’ll want to exercise pot control by checking back on the flop with many of your less vulnerable 1-pair hands such as high 2nd pairs and top pair + bad kicker.
You should avoid getting all-in in these ICM spots without holding a strong hand. Even with some otherwise strong hands like 2-pair, you should often call on the turn rather than raise. This protects your call-down range and allows you to avoid going broke on some highly coordinated boards.
Even with ICM pressure, you should take stabs in position when checked to on the flop with hands that have both very little or very high equity. Remember that your preflop range is quite narrow compared to the chip leader’s range, so you do generally have quite a bit of equity in this spot. Don’t be afraid to make bets in this scenario, especially when the pot is small and there isn’t yet a direct risk of busting out.
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