By Tim Ryerson
Tim is from London, England and has been playing poker since the late 1990’s. He is the ‘Editor-in-Chief’ at Pokerology.com and is responsible for all the content on the website.
Multi-tabling is a method of playing online poker in which you participate on multiple tables simultaneously. Many recreational poker players choose to multi-table because it’s more fun and if they are skilled then they can also increase their profits over time. Professional players will mass multi-table in order to maximize their profit per hour rather than seeking a particular rate of return on their investments.
The general concept of multi-tabling is that if you can be a winning poker player at one table, you might also be able to be a winning poker player at two, three, four, or many more tables simultaneously. Most online poker rooms have built-in features that facilitate multi-tabling and in this lesson we’ll examine the two main methods and provided some strategy tips to help you maximize your profits.
To successfully multi-table you’ll need a way of efficiently organizing the poker tables. The two main methods of multi-tabling are; tiling and stacking.
Tiling is considered to be the most popular method of multi-tabling. When you tile your table windows, you arrange them such a way so that they’re adjacent to each other so that you can see each table in full with little or no overlapping. Most online poker rooms have re-sizeable windows to allow you to change the default size of the tables. How many tables you can fit onto your screen without any overlapping will depend on how easily you can view the tables – and of course the size of your monitor. Some online poker players like to play across multiple computer monitors but for the casual player a single monitor should be sufficient.
Tiling your poker tables means you get to see everything that’s going on across all tables and this has some clear advantages. Firstly, you can use the preset buttons to quickly discard your poor hands and therefore concentrate fully on the other tables. It also allows you to follow the action and study your opponents, even when you’re not involved in a hand.
Stacking is usually the method of choice for players who play a very high number of poker tables simultaneously. Each table window is placed directly on top of the other windows so that they are all positioned in the same general area of your screen. When stacking be sure to check the preferences of your poker software and have it set to bring a window to the front of the stack when it’s your turn to make a betting decision. Players who like to mass multi-table sit-n-goes of various types are most likely to use this method since many decisions in the game are more standardized and automatic than those of a cash game player.
There are advantages to stacking your tables. Firstly, unless you have a very large monitor, you can play on more tables simultaneously – and can increase the size of the tables. Also, since the active tables will pop up in the same position each time, you don’t have to move your mouse cursor across your screen for each betting decision.
Which method of multi-tabling is best? Well, it’s really down to personal choice. If you’re new to multi-tabling then I suggest you experiment with both methods and see which setup you prefer.
In general, your goal during a session of multi-tabling should be to minimize the amount of different factors coming into play. When you have to think about strategic differences every time you move from one window to the next, you’re likely to experience problems and reduce your profitability. Here are some things to consider when multi-tabling:
Playing poker across multiple tables will naturally result in far more situations than playing on a single table. Therefore you’ll want to use a strategy that minimizes difficult decision making. This means you’re probably best served by playing “ABC poker” – which is to play a very basic style and avoid getting into tricky situations. Although playing poker this way might make you somewhat predictable, and won’t necessarily maximize your profits at each table, it’s a great way of ensuring positive winning percentages and making steady profits in the long run. In higher stakes games you will probably want to reduce the number of tables you play, because experienced poker players will pinpoint your predictability and exploit it.
You should avoid playing more than one game type when multi-tabling, so don’t play razz while playing 7-card stud! Playing a couple of cash games while playing in a poker tournament shouldn’t cause too many issues for most players, but it’s generally better to stick to either cash games or tournaments when multi-tabling. This is especially true when using the stacking method. You’ll also find it easier to multi-table if you stick to the same table stakes because your bet sizing will be standardized. Remember, the fewer decisions you have to make, the better.
If you take your poker seriously then you’ll know that it’s important to avoid distractions whilst playing. This is especially true when multi-tabling and you simply won’t have time to surf the net or watch TV while you play. You’ll be using nearly all of your available time making decisions. Also, you’ll have little time for chit-chat. For this reason it’s in your best interests to ignore the chat box and if you can, disable it completely. Remember, the purpose of multi-tabling is to multiply your winnings. But by definition, it can also multiply your losses if one is not careful.
When it comes to tournament poker, there are two schools of thought regarding when to actually start the games. Some players like to start all their tournaments or SNGs at the same time, or at least as close as possible. By doing this it’s easier to keep track of what phase of the game you’re in since each table should only be separated by a level or two at most.The downside to this method of multi-tabling is that all of the games will become short-handed at roughly the same time, resulting in much less time to make decisions. Another drawback is that you would want to complete one set of games completely before starting another round.
Other players prefer to stagger the games so that they have a couple games at various levels of play. Using this method you would start a new poker game right as another game is completed and just keep going for set period of time or after a fixed number of games.This method also makes it easier to play scheduled poker tournaments since these begin at a set time rather than waiting for a certain number of players to join.
Many poker tournament professionals construct their own personal schedule around these scheduled events, adding or even deleting certain poker tournaments dependant on how deep they may go in each game. A player may elect to stop multi-tabling altogether if they make it deep into a big poker tournament, preferring to pay attention to everything in that game in hopes of making a big score rather than the average dollars per hour via multi-tabling.
Some players find multi-tabling easy. For others it can be a real struggle. The best advice is to start slowly and do not play more tables than you can handle. It can take time to adjust to playing poker at several tables at once. If you’re new to multi-tabling then just start by playing two tables, then once you’re comfortable, add another. Progressively add more, one at a time and if you find yourself struggling to make key decisions within the allocated time – or find multi-tabling is negatively affecting your game, reduce the number of tables. It’s also important that you be respectful of your fellow poker players so make sure your decisions are made within a reasonable timeframe.
The more you play online poker the more you’ll feel comfortable multi-tabling. With experience you’ll soon discover your optimum number for multi-tabling – and this will help maximize your profits at the tables!