How to review hand histories in ICMIZER: 5 powerful examples

by Q.


  1. The 3 steps of the hand history review process in ICMIZER
  2. Hand #1: How to call against BB reraise all-in vs our raise from BTN
  3. Hand #2: How to call against BTN push 3-handed with a shortstack
  4. Hand #3: How to defend versus SB raise 3-handed from the Big Blind position
  5. Conclusion

The 3 steps of the hand history review process in ICMIZER

ICMIZER is the preflop Nash calculator for tournament poker. It can calculate the optimal range in pretty much any kind of poker tournament situation.

The review process consists of 3 steps:

  1. Set Up the hand history. This includes plugging in all information that can be typically found in hand history text: stacks, blinds, number of players, actions, etc.
  2. Edit the ranges. The opponent ranges aren't contained in the hand history, so this is the most important step because you are doing some guess work about your opponents. If you guess their ranges (input) wrong the results (output) can be seriously off. You can edit ranges using the Calculate Nash equilibrium button or manually. The recommended approach is first to calculate Nash ranges and then to apply some manual adjustments according to your reads about players at the table.
  3. Get and review the results. If you have completed first 2 steps correctly, on the 3rd step you will get the optimal ranges. The buttons which you typically use on the 3rd step are Calculate and Charts button.

Keep these steps mind as you are reading this article. Note that the first step is easy and very straightforward. Because of this, the first hand history section covers it in detail and when we review the other hand histories we assume that you can complete the first step and focus on 2nd and the 3rd step.

Hand #1: How to play against BB reraise all-in vs our raise from BTN

60/120-15 blinds, 6 Players

UTG: 4,075
MP: 1,837
CO: 1,105
Hero (BTN): 3,748
SB: 1,060
BB: 1,675

Preflop: Hero is BTN with Kd Qd
3 folds, Hero raises to 240, SB folds, BB raises to 1,275 and is all-in, Hero ?

First, you need to copy the hand history to the clipboard. Then press the Paste hand history button.

Now click ① the Tournament Selector button. The tournament selector pop up will appear.

In the Tournament Selector choose ② ICM %EV mode and turn on the ③ FGS checkbox with the depth value 6. Turning the FGS on tells ICMIZER to use the FGS model for its calculations. FGS is the most advanced model for poker tournaments, which is a serious improvement over the standard ICM model.

Make sure to choose the right tournament. In our case, it is the ④ PS SNG 9 max turbo (tournament specified the payouts and the default blind levels).

It should look like this:

We can see the short version of everything that we have selected in the previous step displayed on the tournament selector button.

Next set the blinds level to 60/120-15. To do this, choose it from the blinds selector drop down menu. Note that if you need to add a blind that is not in the list, you can click the green ② Create new button and add a custom blind level to any tournament.

Now we need to set the correct raise size for hero (if the hand is loaded using the paste function, it will be set up automatically). For this click the action editor button next to hero, set the raise size to 240 and click Raise 240 button.

Now edit the action of the player on the BB position. Click the action editor and set his action to all-in.

We have now finished setting up the hand and can now edit the ranges for the players who participate in the hand. At this point ICMIZER should look like this:

The Charts button can help us to see how wide should the player on the BB position be pushing to make the call profitable for us.

Press the ① Charts button.

We see the following chart, which demonstrates how profitability of call with our KQo changes depending on our opponents range

If we click on a point on the chart we can see the detailed information.

We can see that if BB is pushing wider than around 29% of hands we can call him profitably. In general, on the lower stakes players aren't shoving this aggressively so we probably have to muck our hands to the push.

If we wish to see how we should have played with some other hand, say AJo, we can click on its representation below the table and choose it from the popup hand selector tool.

AJo is a stronger hand, so the Chart looks differently. We need to fold only when our opponent is pushing as tight as 13% of the best hands. They most likely are wider than that, so we can call with AJo.

Hand #2: How to call against BTN push 3-handed with a shortstack

300/600 blinds, 3 Players

BTN: 4,820
Hero (SB): 2,530
BB: 6,150

Preflop: Hero is SB with Kd Qd
BTN raises to 5,520 and is all-in, Hero ?

Plug in this hand in ICMIZER (step 1) and let's focus on the edit the ranges part (step 2).

First, Calculate Nash equilibrium to find the optimal calling range for Hero on the SB against the BTN optimal push.

Now, click the Calculate FGS button to see how the optimal strategy vs opponents who are playing optimally looks like.

We can see that we can call with 55+,A7s+,A8o+,KTs+,KQo range.

The key factor which affects our decision here is the buttons pushing range.

Many players focus on this range too much and completely ignore that the big blinds calling range vs BTN push also affects our decision. Because if BB calls too often we may pretty much fold into the money.

Let's play around with these ranges to see how changes in our opponent strategy affect our decision.

We can conclude that even under pessimistic assumptions about our opponents we should be calling here.

Let's use the Hand EV chart to see how tight our opponent on the button has to be for KQs to become a fold:

So if we assume that they are not pushing 30% of hands in this spot we should be folding KQs.

Hand #3: How to defend versus SB raise 3-handed from the Big Blind position

100/200 blinds, 25 ante, 3 Players

SB: 2,945
Hero (BB): 3,315
BTN: 7,240

Preflop: Hero is BB with Ad 7h
BTN folds, SB raises to 400, Hero ?

We hold A7o on the BB and the SB minraises. Plug this hand in ICMIZER like we did in previous hands and let's focus on steps 2 and 3 this time.

Assign SB raising range to a rather tight range of 35%. If our push is profitable against that range, it is obviously even better against a looser player.

Let's have a look at how our hand looks like against several potential SB calling ranges

If SB calls with 8% we can push any-two profitable. That is just too tight calling strategy for SB so he opens himself to this kind of exploitation, he basically folds around 2/3 of the time or 66 percentage of the time.

If SB calls with 19% it means that he will be folding around 50% of the time after our push. In such case our pushing range is around 18% of hands with our A7o standing on the edge of profitable hands, but it is still a clear push.

If SB calls with the entire raising range 35% it basically means that he didn't just raise but that he has pushed 35% of hands (since he is not folding anything there is no way to win the pot without showdown for us).

In such case our profitable pushing range is 16.1% hands.

If we change the situation and make as if SB has pushed ① the same 35% ② range we can see that in this case our calling range ③ is the same as in the situation where he was calling our push with the entire range.

In these 3 examples of potential calling ranges A7o was a push, but is there any calling range for SB, which makes us fold A7o? To check that click the Charts button and click on the calling range.

We get the chart which shows how A7o fares against different calling ranges the SB player could choose after our push. As we can see there is no range that has a negative EV for pushing A7o, so in this spot our reshove is always profitable. Great news!

We can see that the push is the most profitable if opponent is tight. It makes sense: when we push and he folds often we immediately grab the big pot and face no chance of losing an all-in at all. And while A7o is a reasonably strong hand, if our opponent calls our push we aren't too happy about it. For that scenario we would rather have a stronger hand, say AJ

With AJo we can see a different dynamic on the Chart: our hand gains EV the wider our opponent pushes, so with AJ we are hoping that he calls wide.


In this article we've learned how to plug in hands to ICMIZER and how to find optimal decisions based on the ranges of our opponents.

The results you get out of our calculator will depend on the input. Using ICMIZER is part art part science. Nash equilibrium ranges are the science part. The art part is the manual adjustments that you make to your opponents ranges.

Remember, almost no one is playing according to Nash equilibrium. On the lower stakes players deviate from the Nash ranges, that is they call tighter or they push wider than the Nash equilibrium recommends in some cases or tighter than the Nash equilibrium recommends in the other cases.

We recommend watching our ICMIZER Video Tutorial to make sure that you are comfortable with the user interface and can get the maximum out of ICMIZER.

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