Multi-tabling in poker is the only way for sub-elite players to make a reasonable profit playing poker online. Some of you will already be playing multi-table poker. But for those of you who have yet to try this latest form of online poker, or who are trying to increase the number of tables you are playing, this article will advise you on the best methods to employ.
The clearest advantage of playing poker online, rather than at a brick-and-mortar casino, is that you can play at more than one table at once, which can be very profitable if you are a good player who wins more than you lose- you play more hands, therefore, you win more money.
Of course, by playing more tables you will be sacrificing some of your return-on-investment due to having less time to observe players and thus less understanding of their reads & tells. This is inevitable when you are playing eight tables instead of focussing all your attention on one table and noticing the speeds and styles of your opponents.
Say that you are playing two tables simultaneously online and that on the last 2, 000 hands (this represents around 15 hours of play when playing two tables) your win-rate is 10 Big Blinds/100, in other words, with every 100 hands you play, you win approximately 10 big blinds. If you are playing on NL10 ($0.05 /$0.10) your profit will be $20. If you decided to play eight tables at once, and if we work from the principle that your profit will be affected to the point of falling to 6 Big Blinds/100, you will play 8000 hands in the same 15 hour period, which will then give you a profit of $48! Consequently, even if your profit margin is reduced by multi-table gaming, the overall winning total will be considerably higher.
Ok, we have now established that multi-table gaming is a good idea, but how on earth can you keep up with each table? It is the case, as with most things, that practice making perfect, and your ability for multi-table gaming depends, essentially, on creating the right environment in which to play.
Your Immediate Environment
Make sure that you are located in a calm, well decorated, environment, and at a desk that does not resemble a bomb site. Another thing that might disturb you is when a girl/boyfriend or flat-mate keeps trying to engage you in conversation. This is true even if the invasion is virtual, instant messages like MSN or Skype can make you lose concentration at vital moments during your play. Think about changing your online status so that you appear engaged or off-line. Ideally, you should try and make a habit of disconnecting your instant messaging services when you are playing multi-table poker. When you are playing poker, it should be the sole focus of your attention.
Another good idea consists of choosing a comfortable chair, it must be adequate enough to sit down for at least two hours at a time. Be careful not to choose the most comfortable chair, and ban altogether any sofas, you will just risk falling asleep or relaxing too much. Playing poker when you are tired is -EV (negative expected value), and you should only decide to undertake such a feat, as eight table gaming, when you feel 100% mentally and physically alert.
The above pieces of advice are true for any work that you might undertake for long periods of time at a computer, but even more so for mentally challenging tasks. Symptoms such as ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’ (when you cut off the nerve connections to your hands by exerting too much pressure on your wrists), or a strained neck, caused by too much computing, will hinder your playing skills or stop you playing altogether. In order to avoid these discomforts, force yourself to detach from the game for a while to loosen your shoulders, neck and hands every 45 minutes.
Your optimal performance when playing poker online rests on the following simple advice:
– Your back should be perfectly straight without having to force the position; choose an adequate chair and adjust the backrest.
– Your fingers should be at a 90° angle to your thighs.
– Your thighs should be at right angles to your tibia and your feet should be flat to the floor; adjust the height of your chair accordingly.
– Your eyes should be at the same height as the middle of the computer screen; adjust the height of your monitor, it is probably currently too low.
The ideal situation is thus to choose an adjustable chair, but if you do not have one, the best alternative is to follow the above advice but substitute adjustments with pillows or clothes.
Your Computer and Equipment
Having a good computer is of the utmost most important in multi-table poker play. Another thing that will drive you apoplectic with rage will be if your computer crashes when an opponent goes All-In at the pre-flop when you are holding a pair of Aces. Also, make sure that your mouse is working to its optimum capacity and that it is placed in a comfortable position from your keyboard and monitor. Imagine you are preparing for a marathon.
You will also need to have a good monitor. An old CRT of 17 inches is not an option. Opt for a 22-inch minimum size with a resolution of at least 1200×1600 pixels. The best screens are LCD or LED, these are lighter and take up a lot less room, and you will therefore be able to move them easily, gain space and, ideally, fix them to a wall mount. A virtual reality headset is also a possibility although you will have to be careful not to turn into Lawnmower Man!
It is important to install and learn about basic poker software, such as Pokertracker; it will allow you to obtain various information on your opponents; their profiles, style and current form. When you see that a certain player thinks that a top pair top kicker are the ultimate cards or who goes All-In preflop with a pair of Jacks, then knowing this information can give you confidence in your own ability and thus allow you to win more money.
Finally, think about the details that will make a difference. The choice of background music, for example. Take the time to create playlists that will not distract you from your session. Do not hesitate to use online music services such as Deezer or LastFM and choose a style of music that suits the style of poker you are playing at that moment. If you are playing a ‘tight’ game choose calming music, alternatively, if you are playing aggressively you could choose to listen to Metallica, Muse or even hardcore.
Do not participate in your favourite forums, do not start exploring the net and put your mobile phone on vibrate- do not answer it, but listen to messages so you know you are not missing something important.
Make sure that you have your anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software running so that you are fully protected while playing. A badly protected computer can be slow and this will affect your bankroll.
The Lay-out of your Poker Room
With a monitor of a 1600×1200 resolution, you can show exactly nine tables on screen without any overlap, as you can re-size the tables to 520×390 pixels- with the majority of online poker software, you can still see the cards, bet sizes, and stacks clearly at this size. De-select all the options that are not vital to the game, like animations that show the cards being dealt, player avatars, and change your background from the picture of your favourite super-model to a plain background. You can also activate the option that shows the playing cards in four colours, this will make it easier to notice colours of three-of-a-kind, and thus you will be able to swap between tables a lot faster.
Multi-table Step-by-step, Table-after-table
If you are only familiar with a two table gaming format, then it would not be very sensible to suddenly add another 6 tables. But, instead of just opening two tables, open three in your next session. Once you have mastered this new level, add another table, and keep doing this until you are playing 8 tables. Although there is a big difference between playing at one table or five, the move from five to eight or nine tables will feel a lot easier. Do not be afraid of adding another table at your next session, and do not push yourself too hard, if things go badly then you can close the table as quickly as you opened it.
When you play multi-table, you should be certain that you will be able to play at your best with all the tables you have open. Do not begin to damage your chances of winning on one table, just because you are well-stacked on another table. Stealing the blinds and play the EV+ rounds is still one of the most important factors of your game.
If during the course of your sessions you feel that your best performance is escaping you and that events are not turning in your favour like after two bad beats in a row, raise yourself from the table and get yourself a drink, take advantage of these slumps in performance to take a break, wash your face and go to the toilet. Always have a drink at hand (non-alcoholic, of course); this will help you to stay in a game when it is going at full intensity.
Knowing how to take a break between sessions is very important. After playing for two or three hours, stop yourself and re-charge: eat, relax in front of the TV, play sudokus or take a little exercise. Do everything you can to distract yourself from poker for a short while.
Last Advice Before you Multi-table
Once you have finished a multi-table session (start by playing at least an hour), take the time to analyse your most impressive hands, in particular when you had doubted the way in which you had played them.
Use Pokertracker to compare your decisions with your real chances of winning at the moment that you did.
Study the largest pots that you had been a contender for, and note which players it is that you should be watching out for.
Try not to force your style.
Do not start playing tightly just because you think you will not have the time to click your mouse. When you notice yourself playing in a ‘tight’ style then close a couple of tables.
Gordon Dyke has served as our poker expert since 2017. Gordon has been playing poker professionally and recreationally for nearly two decades.