Playing one-table just doesn't seem to cut it anymore; you want to know if you are capable of playing several at once. Or perhaps you already play multiple tables but are looking towards taking that next step of transforming your self into a 16 – 24 table supergrinder.
Pros and Cons of multi tabling online poker
The advantages to playing multiple tables:
- Increased Volume
- Increased Hourly Rate
- Increased RB / VIP status
- Increased Experience
- Decreased Winrate
- Mentally Challenging
- More Stressful / More Tiring
- More Mistakes
- Easier to go on tilt
- Decreased capacity for learning
- Risk of Robotic Play
Most of the advantages are a result of the increased volume. Your hourly rate should increase because you are playing more hands. You winrate however, will decrease. Multi-tabling is a trade-off. Yes, you play more hands; but you must accept the fact that you won't play them as well. Multi-tabling means there will be reduced time for each decision – you don't have the luxury of sitting there examining all the angles.
This lack of additional thinking time may make it harder to learn and improve your poker strategy. Yes, you gain experience in terms of the sheer number of hands you see – but the best learning will be done when you play fewer tables and really think deeply about every decision.
Playing too many tables can cause you to become robotic. Your opponents will have a much easier time picking up reads and exploiting you!
Multi tabling poker, especially mass-multi-tabling can be very stressful if you are not mentally conditioned to deal with it. You will experience more bad-beats/suckouts in a session simply because you are seeing more hands. If your mental-game is not in good shape, it can cause you to tilt a lot faster.
It's recommended that if you want to multi-table you increase the number of tables you are playing gradually. Jumping in at the deep-end with 16+ tables is a recipe for disaster. Multi-tabling is a skill that needs to be learned like everything else. At first playing just 4 tables may seem hectic. Start with 2 and slowly add tables as you feel comfortable. Don't expect to add further tables every day, you should often be playing a certain number of tables for weeks before you think about adding more.
Is Multi-Tabling Necessary to be Successful?
In short. No. It's true there are some big players out there who are notorious for pulling off consistently good win-rates while 24 tabling, but there are plenty of other pros who stick with 4 tables or even just 1. As you progress beyond small-stakes into mid/high stakes, mass multi-tabling starts to become an unreality. There likely won't be enough available games to mass multi-table. Even if there were, you'd likely get chewed up by the regulars who are playing just 4 tables and focusing solidly on all the action.
Multi-tabling is an extremely useful skill to have in maximising your hourly-rate and volume. However, many players make the mistake of attempting to play too many tables too quickly. Rather than making them more successful it actually causes them to become un-successful. They can't cope with making so many decisions so quickly and their game deteriorates drastically. They start to lose even thought they might have been winning if they'd stuck to fewer tables. Not only are they losing, but they are sacrificing the opportunity to improve because their entire focus is consumed by making decisions quickly.
It's up to you to decide what your style is going to be. Do you want to maximise your volume/hourly? Or do you want to maximise your winrate along with the quality of your learning? There is no right or wrong answer.
There are 3 table layouts commonly used in multi-tabling each with their own pros and cons. A lot of sites will have an option to automatically arrange the tables into a certain layout. Some sites will also remember the location of your tables, so when you open new-ones they appear exactly where you want them. Before embarking on a multi-tabling session, familiarise yourself with with what your specific client offers in the way of facilitating this. One thing you don't want to do when multi-tabling is to spend excess time dragging/re-sizing tables when you could be focusing on the action.
The tiled arrangement sets all your windows out side by side. In the example above there is some overlap across the tables to the maximise the amount that will fit on one monitor, but overlap is not necessary – some players don't like tables overlapping at all. The advantage to the tiled arrangement is that it allows you to monitor all the tables even when you are not currently involved in a hand. The disadvantage is that this method takes up the most space. This is the recommended and most commonly used method of multi-tabling
Cascade sets one table on top of the other as depicted. It still allows you to see the edge of each table in case you need to manually jump back to them. The client will be configured so that when it's your turn to act , the active table will jump to the front. The advantage of this method is it takes less space. The disadvantage is you can't monitor all the tables at once. It's easy enough to manually navigate back to a table if you want to observe the action – although in reality you are probably not going to be able to watch more than 2 tables at once, if that.
It probably looks like there is just one table here. That's because the other 15 tables are stacked directly beneath it. When it is your turn to act on a table it will jump to the front. The advantage of this method is that it takes up the least space of all. You can play 16 tables and still have part of your monitor screen free for something else. The downside is – you can't monitor the action on other tables, and it's difficult to navigate back to specific tables when you need to.
If you are going to be playing more than 12 tables it is recommended you make use of scripts to assist your play. Even if you are playing less than 12 it can be a good suggestion. An example of such software is TableNinja (available in the PokerVIP Store) – which supports Pokerstars and PartyPoker/WPT. It is commercial software that must be paid for – it does come with a 30 day trial however.
If you don't want to shell out money for TableNinja or you don't play on a compatible site, then it's possible to achieve similar results with the use of Auto-HotKey-Scripts. Here are some of the features TableNinja offers and some of the things you might consider coding if you want to use AHK. (Using AHK can be complicated but if you search various poker forums you will likely find some pre-written scripts available for download.)
- Coloured boxes indicating the status of each table
- Tables jump-to-front when mouse-over
- Pre-types bet-sizings into bet-box depending on your specification
- Moves cursor to active table with hotkey
- Buys-in automatically and deals with posting blinds
- Hotkeys for raising/checking/folding
- Automatic time-bank activation
- Countless other options
It is not uncommon for mass-multitablers to make use of a dual-monitor setup. If you want to tile a 24 table layout 2 monitors will likely be required unless your monitor is very big. Even if you can tile all your tables on 1 monitor, a lot of grinders like to have a second window for tracking software, the poker-room lobby, the Hand-Replayer, amonst other things. Often, this second window gets used for browsing forums or watching movies instead, but in reality you shouldn't be doing this while grinding!
Some other hardware you should think about -
Chair – Is it going to be comfortable for long hours of grinding? Is it high enough? (Rough guide is that your eyes should be level with the top of the monitor)
Mouse – Is it acceptable for the job? Sometimes extra buttons can be useful for multi-table grinders. You can assign those as hotkeys for various actions. Are the sensitivy settings too-high/too low?
Computer – Tracking software like HEM2 demands more power from machines than ever before. If you want to run tracking software, play 24 tables, and listen to the latest Lady Gaga album, you'd better make sure your machine can handle it.