Il-nam’s original exit strategy was ruined by Gi-hun’s kindness
It’s clear that Il-nam needed an exit strategy before they hit game 5 (the glass bridge game) now that we know everything we know. His safety could not be assured there, even if he attained the 16th bib; anyone could simply push him off the bridge.
In episode 6, he didn’t try to locate a partner. His strategy was not to get picked so that he could be “killed” and leave the tournament, but after Gi-hun unexpectedly selected him, he had no choice but to comply and wait his turn. Instead of Mi-nyeo being left without a partner, she could proceed to the next round because of this.