When watching instruction videos or reading online discussions, you often read about the concept of "waiting for a better spot". The player often mentions that they have an "edge over the field" and that they will pass up on marginal opportunities in order to "get their money in better" later on.

Let's assume we're in any situation where we have a decision that is just slightly +$EV (so, including ICM considerations) but have a significant "edge" over the field (whatever that means, mathematically). Assuming we don't care about the real life effects of variance, is there any mathematical value in this approach? Or is passing up on these spots just basically lighting money on fire?

I guess you could reformulate the question with a thought experiment: Imagine a situation where you're covered by villain, flipping against their range and pot odds are such that the decision (including ICM considerations) is only very slightly profitable. But for whatever magical reason you know that in the next hand, you will always make +[some arbitrary but significant amount] of chips 100% of the time.

What are the expected differences in the long term results of a player that takes this spot vs. one that doesn't? Does a player that takes this spot just make (ever so slightly) more money than a player who doesn't? Or is there some inherent value to the "tournament life" that factors into this decision? After all, the player who takes the spot will not be able to win any more money 50% of the time - on the other hand, the player will also double up 50% of the time.

  • Your question may be relevant with this one
    – user1165
    Aug 23, 2015 at 1:22
  • One common situation is a MTT near the bubble where you have lots of opportunities to steal blinds and 3-bet the mid-size stacks. In this situation, you have boatloads of fold equity, and this is often a "better spot" than flipping for your life. Aug 23, 2015 at 13:26
  • 2
    Me and Phil Ivey, equal stacks, heads up, final table and I offer a coin flip. Why would he call when he can outplay me over a number of hands?
    – WW.
    Aug 24, 2015 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


As you play and will gather experience you might start feeling things when you play and it will affect your decisions. (At least that's what happens with me)

Sometimes when you have a really good hand(2 pairs or better) and your oponent starts to be aggressive when he normally never is. That's when you know it's time to fold. Even if the situation says it's a good spot to bet. Another situation is when your 3 bet a player and he 4 bet's you but in the last 40 hands he never 4bet and was pretty active. So in that case you can almost fold any hand that's lower than KK.

The reason i'm telling you to fold is because in the example i just described up, i knew the player normally never plays agressiv in that situation. That means that i can somehow read this player. And since i can read this player it means i can exploit him and have an edge over him if he keeps playing like that.
It's as if the player was showing you AA preflop. ICM would tel you to go allin with your JJ would you do it? Of course not. You don't go into a war where you are behind you try to go into a war where you're most likely ahead.

Another situation is when you can push 72 in button and can not call with QJ if you have less chips than the agressor. Because the reason you push with 72 in button is because the players in the blinds are most likely to fold when you have 30 BB and they have +-10 BB. So if they fold 4 times when you try to steal the blinds you will break even and even if they call you, most of the time they have higher cards like QJ,KQ etc... so your 7 and 2 could both hit and be enough to win. So in a sense 72 is better than J2. That's one case EV+ situation. But if you have a read that they defend their blinds more than 30% of the time than you might consider not to push any two cards.

If i would play against a good player where i don't know if i'm ahead or not, i would not fold. Because the good players play agressiv time to time and it's harder to figure out when they are trying to bluff you out of the hand or not. And if it's a fast game you can not wait for better hand. If it's a slow game you might consider to fold and wait to see more hands in order to understand how the other player plays.

  • does ICM really say you should call JJ when you are up against AA?
    – user1934
    Jan 16, 2017 at 0:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.