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Multi-Tabling Poker Online:

Playing Multi-Table Poker

by Scott Buono
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Playing Multi-tables OnlineAlthough it’s definitely not for everyone, playing multiple games or once (or “multi-tabling”) online can have its advantages. The benefits will depend mostly on the individual player considering multi-tabling, along with some other factors that control the feasibility of doing so successfully. Ability, motivation, personality and stamina are just a few traits that will determine one’s candidacy for profitable multi-tabling poker online. Stories abound of online pros who “make a killing” playing 10 or 12 games simultaneously. Logic dictates that these tales are not myths, as no player would willingly subject himself to consistently losing at a dozen tables at a time!

However, prematurely pushing the “multi-tabling envelope” to an extreme will undoubtedly have some very negative effects on the overall experience of playing poker online. Much of the “passion” and “fun” of the game will be replaced by rote mechanics. There simply isn’t any time to give due diligence to any one particular hand in progress, or make good reads and decisions. There is little chance to learn or improve one’s game during a hand that flashes by in a millisecond. The only motivation left for maintaining such a frantic pace is the hope of increased profits for the “type-A” action junkie. Their DNA allows them to accept the sacrifice of playing less optimally, as long as their bottom line is an ever-increasing bankroll. Just the idea of playing only a single table puts them into a coma, and the only possible way to sharpen their concentration is by spreading themselves thin. They disregard the argument that performance on any one table will suffer, as they have mastered the art of balancing counter-productivity with increasing their hourly profits.

There is a compromise between players who simply cannot cope with more than one table at a time and those that get anxious unless they have an “action button” to click every two seconds. In fact, after some online experience, most average players will fall somewhere in “a middle ground” and be able to competently manage two or three tables simultaneously. Only experience and practice will determine the degree to which your play is impacted (negatively or positively) by multi-tabling poker online and where your “magic number” (of games) settles to make your experience as enjoyable and profitable as possible.

One of the most important things to consider when playing multiple games online is the type of game you choose to play. Try to avoid mixing up different (yet similarly formatted) games among many tables to avoid unnecessary confusion. For instance, playing 7-Stud at two tables and Razz at two others can easily cause too many mistakes. It’s just too simple (especially while playing at such a quicker pace) to inadvertently fold a strong Stud holding because you erroneously thought it was one of the Razz tables suddenly calling for your attention. Even Cash games vs. Tournament games deserve segregation during multi-tabling, as the style of play in each becomes increasingly different as the tournament enters its late stages while the ring game remains the same. In the cash game, you are consistently playing only premium hands, while the last few rounds of, say, a Sit and Go require much more aggression with a wider range of hands as the table gets short-handed and the blinds become more valuable. The same K9 you might normally push with in tournament play to steal the blinds could be folded by accident if you mistakenly think it’s the cash game that comes to the front of your screen asking for your decision. Throw in a HORSE table or two, and you can really go nuts keeping track of which game you’re on when the action at each table reaches you (in a sometimes-startling manner... “Beep beep”!!). Playing the same game at every table will enable you to get into a rhythm and improve your concentration.

In addition to keeping the games to just one type, also consider whether or not the game itself is appropriate for purposes of multi-tabling. Given the number of decisions you will have to make very quickly, you would much rather be playing a more “robotic” game of poker, where your subconscious can take over without sacrificing too much in the way of creativity. Games where you can apply a set “autopilot” strategy requiring less critical decisions are preferable for multi-tabling. Such games might include “low” or “micro” stakes NL cash games (where one mistake won’t be catastrophic to your bankroll), or the fast level (“turbo”) Sit and Go. In the small NL cash games, steady profits can still be earned by donning blinders and playing only premium hands fast (including perhaps small pairs for value only if you should hit a set). In the “Turbo Sit and Go”, you can also play a bit more “mindlessly” with a common sense, straightforward plan of – “tight early” and “aggressive late”. In both these examples, you will be facing fewer “marginal” decisions based on a quicker multi-tabling strategic criterion.

On the other hand, high(er) Limit cash games might require the application of some basic math (odds-figuring) during a hand, a halfway decent knowledge of your opponents, and more awareness of what is going on at the table even while you are not involved in a hand. Similarly, large MTTs (multi-table tournaments) warrant even more attention as the event evolves, blinds increase, players come and go, etc. Results in these types of game situations may suffer dramatically while multi-tabling.

There are also some logistic considerations to playing multi-tables. The most obvious would be your actual computer hardware and set up. You will want to be sure you can clearly see each table without them overlapping (too much) and/or constantly appearing and disappearing as each requires your immediate attention. (The software of most sites offering the ability to multi-table will usually keep bringing to the front of your screen that table which most urgently needs your decision.) If you are going to be multi-tabling on a very regular basis, invest in a quality monitor capable of up to 1600x1200 resolution. At this setting, 4 typical online poker tables can be viewed without any overlap. If you aim to become one of the “extreme” multi-tablers, you will eventually be facing a “dual monitor” configuration. Common sense also comes into play while keeping your eyes on so much action simultaneously: Come up for air once in a while! Frequent breaks will go a long way in staying focused. The games aren’t going anywhere, but your eyes just might throw in the towel without a rest now and then.

When considering the idea of multi-tabling poker online, remember to weigh in two important factors before you become overwhelmed and totally burned out: How much fun are you having(?), and how steady is your game improving? These “intangibles” go far beyond simply maximizing your profits. Completely sacrificing any enjoyment of the game and potentially becoming stagnant in your playing ability because you’ve chosen to be a “profit robot” are risks that can negatively impact the over all online poker experience by taking multi-tabling too far. On the positive side, undertaken in moderation, it can be a good way to maintain your interest, keep things exciting and perhaps add a little extra boost to your bankroll.

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Strategy Articles by Scott Buono:
Poker Advice
Poker Focus
Sit N Go Strategy
Multi-Tabling Online Poker
Taking Notes Online: I Remember You!

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