World Series of Poker Europe Coolbet Open Presents Accumulating Chips vs. Survival Part II
  • is offering free poker content straight from Rep Porter, a two-time bracelet winner who has already cashed four times at the 2015 WSOP! is a new online education site led by Rep Porter and Rick Fuller. Their purpose is to teach you how to be a SIGNIFICANTLY better tournament player. believes that having a good, solid understanding of tournament play, strategies, and dynamics is critical in this process. They firmly believe that poker is a game of decision-making, and that the best players in the world are the ones who consistently make better decisions. As such, their goal is to help you achieve "Better Results through Better Decisions."

Over the next few weeks, as the 2015 World Series of Poker plays out at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, will be offering you free poker content straight from Porter, a two-time bracelet winner who has already cashed four times this summer!

In the Part I – which you can view by clicking here, started a discussion about the value of survival versus accumulating chips in a tournament.

The Value of Survival According to Rep Porter

This week we want to talk about the value of surviving once you reach the stage in the tournament where each prize is unique. This usually happens at the final table. At this point in the tournament, whenever a player goes broke, you make more money. Simple right?

If you subscribe to the idea that the percentage of chips you have are equal to the chances of you winning the tournament (and almost all the poker math geeks do), then you realize that allowing other players to go broke without changing your chances of winning the tournament is a great thing for you. Each place you survive adds a real amount of guaranteed cash to your pocket. This all happens without lessening your chances to win.

So that very last chip in your stack has a tremendous amount of value. The second to last chip is almost as valuable, and the third to last chip helps protect those last two, so it is pretty valuable as well.

Each chip in your stack is slightly less valuable than the one that came before it. If you want to look at how this works, grab an ICM calculator link online and play around with some numbers. We can take a quick look at this from an intuitive level. Suppose there are 10 people left in the hypothetical 1,000 person field we discussed in the last article. If everyone has equal stacks, in theory, they all have the same value in the tournament — 10% of the un-awarded money. Using the WSOP 1,000-person field payout schedule:

PlacePercentage of prize poolPercentage of unawarded money

What we need to look at is what happens when some stacks are combined. Now let’s suppose that one player busts four other players. This can happen slowly or quickly, but let’s suppose five players all go all in on the same hand. One of those players wins. That player has 50% of the chips, and the other five surviving players have 10% each.

Now how do we decide what these new stacks are worth? For the four players that went broke, this is easy. They were paid 11.3% of the prize pool. Now for the player with the big stack, let’s start with the assumption that he is 100% to win the tournament. We know this is not possible, but it is the best case scenario and creates a boundary for maximum value that those five players' chips can have when they all end up in one stack.

If this player wins, he gets 33.5% of the un-awarded money. Now if we add that to the 11.3% that the players who lost got for coming in seventh through tenth, we get a total of 44.8%. This is the most value that these five players can collectively get. If this player comes in second, they only get ~32% of the money and less if he comes in third or fourth. So before that hand, those five players were worth 50% of the un-awarded money, and now they are capped at just under 45% of the money.

This is great for the five people who weren’t involved as they still have 10% of the chips each, and worth a minimum of 11% (1/5th of the remaining 55%) of the un-awarded money. All they did is just sit there and watch the carnage, and we know that the player with 50% of the chips is only 50% to win. An ICM calculation shows that each of the remaining five players is worth a little more than 12.74% of the prize pool. That is up quite a bit from the 10% they were worth before this hand took place. By surviving just four more players at this point, without winning any chips, they gained equity equal to 2.74% of the prize pool.

What does all this mean? It means that the chips you win are worth significantly LESS than the chips you lose at this stage in a tournament. This means when you call a bet, you need to have significant edge. The chips you are risking are worth more than the chips you are winning. Surviving has reached its maximum value. The idea that you have to turn down bets that would be slightly positive expectancy because of the difference in chip value might be disturbing to some. This is one of the major ways in which tournaments differ from cash games.

Two quick takeaways are: You would rather bet than call at this point in a tournament, and play tight and be patient late in tournaments.

Part III in the series will release next Thursday. In the meantime, go to to get started with a free tournament poker kit. It will include nearly two hours of videos on how to use your chips as weapons in tournaments, a series of articles on common misconceptions and problems in poker, a link to download pokerstove and a tutorial on how to use it, and a hand range booklet that will help you establish ranges right at the table while you're playing.

Also, be sure to like The Poker Academy on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @ThePokerAcad.

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