One of the biggest benefits of playing poker online is the ability to play more than one table at a time through multi-tabling on poker sites. This allows you to maximize your profitability if you're a winning player.
We'll be looking at how multi-tabling in poker can help you earn more money with your time at the tables.
Basics of Poker Multi-Tabling
Multi-tabling in poker is, as the name suggests, playing multiple tables at a time. In live poker, you're restricted to playing at one table that you have to be in front of to play physically. However, as online tables are virtual, there's nothing to stop you from sitting at multiple tables on the same site or across multiple sites.
Even though online poker is considerably faster than live poker, players still get bored waiting for hands to finish. By playing multiple tables, you can keep your mind active with a decision on one table while you're waiting for a hand on another table to finish.
As well as keeping yourself engaged, if you're a winning player, it allows you to maximize your potential earnings when you sit down to play.
For example, if you estimate you earn $10 an hour playing one table online and you played four tables at once, you could potentially quadruple your hourly rate!
However, things aren't always that simple. Even though in theory you can earn 2x, 3x, or 4x your money by increasing the number of tables you play, it doesn't take into account the potential loss of edge in your experience by playing multiple tables. If you play more than one table, naturally, your focus will be split between however many tables you have open. Therefore you won't be able to give your full attention to one game and may not be able to play as optimally.
You may find that what was a $10 win rate playing one table becomes a $6 win rate when playing two tables. Now, even though your win rate per table has decreased, the fact you're playing more than one table means that you are making more money.
The key is to find the perfect balance between increasing your number of tables while keeping high profitability.
How to Multi-Table SNG Tournaments or Cash Games
There are different ways you can arrange your tables to optimize your multi-tabling experience:
Tiling is arranging your tables on your screen as you would tiles on a wall - none of them overlapping each other and completely covering the screen so you can see the edges of each table.
The main benefit of tiling your tables is that you can see what's going on at every single table at a glance. You can see when a hand is at the river, and you'll need to play again or if the action is already on you. As well as keeping up with the action, it allows you to keep an eye on any opponents that are playing particularly poorly so you can identify their weaknesses and better exploit them.
However, the main downside to tiling your tables is that each table takes up a lot of space on your screen. If you're planning on mass multi-tabling you'll soon find yourself out of screen space or being forced to make each table extremely tiny so that you can fit them on your screen.
If you are planning on playing between 2-6 tables, tiling is likely the best solution.
Stacking is arranging your tables one on top of the other - like a stack - with a new table coming to the front every time an action is required.
The biggest benefit of stacking your tables is that you can fit many more tables on your screen than you can if you tile them. The most common way you'll see stacking implemented on poker sites is in a cascading style where you can see the top part of each table, so there is a way to find a particular table if you need it. By stacking your tables, you can easily fit 10+ tables on your screen and play without a problem.
On the other hand, the major drawback of stacking tables is that it's hard to keep track of which table is which, and it's hard to follow the action on each table as it gets sent to the back once the action has been completed.
As you can't see each table until action is required, you can't see what's been happening in the hand prior to your action and can therefore make it harder to make the correct decision without spending time looking back at what happened.
Stacking is recommended if you're playing a large number of simple games that don't require much hand reading - such as turbo sit and gos.
Pros & Cons
As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages to multi-tabling in poker.
How much money can you make playing online poker with multiple tables open? If you're a winning player, limiting yourself to one table means you could be missing out on increased profits. If you expect to make $8 an hour playing one table, you may think that by adding another table, you'll make $16 an hour, and by adding a third, you'll make $24 an hour. Multi-tabling is one way to increase the average hands per hour in online poker to increase your monthly earnings.
While the math is sound, the logic isn't. When you play at multiple tables, your attention is split between them, meaning you won't be able to play optimally at every table as you're unable to focus all your energy on one table.
Therefore your win rate per table will take a hit. How much of a hit is down to the player, and generally, the more tables a player adds, the less they make per table.
For example, if you make $8 an hour per table playing one table, $6 an hour per table playing two tables, $5 an hour per table playing three tables, and $3 an hour per table playing four tables - you can see that the most profitable configuration for this player to make money in online poker is to play three tables and make $15 per hour.
By playing more than one table at a time, you're not stuck waiting for the hand to finish when you've folded or waiting for your opponent to make a decision. Once you've completed your action on one table, you can turn your attention to another table and make a decision there. This is useful for long online poker tournament durations such as MTT or satellite games.
Having to make a decision constantly keeps your brain engaged and thinking about poker and can help with the quality of your decision making. Compare this to playing at one table where you might lose focus and check your phone in between hands - it's a lot better to stay engaged with what's happening at the table.
If you play at one table, your results are more likely to be affected by variance as you can only play a limited number of hands. By playing more tables, you increase the number of hands you play and decrease the effect of variance on your session.
For example, if you play a 100-hand session and run KK into AA twice, you're likely going to be losing in that session. However, if you play a 1000 hand session and run KK into AA twice, you have more hands in which you can apply your skill edge and make back the money you lost due to variance.
Inaccurate Opponent Reading
When you're playing multiple tables (particularly if you're stacking them), it's tough to keep track of how your opponents are playing. If you're a good player, a good amount of your win rate should come from identifying how your opponents are playing badly and then exploiting that.
If you're not watching the tables to see how they're playing, this becomes a lot harder to do. This is a big reason why win rates decrease as the number of tables increases - while it might be easy to keep track of players when playing one or two tables, it becomes very difficult when playing 7 or 8 tables.
Multiple Buy-Ins Expenses
If you're playing multiple tables you need to have the bankroll to support it. Say you have 40 buy-ins for a set stake level, if you're playing one table you're only risking 2.5% of your bankroll at any one time - which seems like a reasonable amount.
However, if you play four tables you now have 10% of your bankroll in play which is a large amount to have at risk at any one time.
The more tables you play simultaneously, the bigger your bankroll needs to be as you need to cover a greater number of buy-ins over a session.
Prone to Bad Beats
The more hands of poker you play, the more likely you are to see bad beats happen, and the more likely you are to see truly horrendous beats. When multi-tabling in poker, you get to see a lot of hands in a very short amount of time - which will lead to you getting bad beats a lot more often.
It requires a lot of mental resilience to keep pushing through these bad beats and realize that they're just a part of the variance that comes with playing a lot of hands.
It's this reason that some people think online poker is rigged - they play a lot more hands than they would be playing live poker in the same amount of time and see more bad beats because of it. They assume it's because online poker is rigged for action whereas the reality is that these things happen more often the more hands you play.
Multi-Tabling Poker Strategy
Multi-tabling in poker is very different from playing one table so it's important that your strategy reflects that.
Focus on One Poker Variant
If you're playing multiple tables, the best thing you can do is stick to one poker variant. If you're playing a mix of cash games and poker tournaments or even a mix of different poker games such as No-Limit Hold'em and Pot-Limit Omaha it's going to be very hard to keep your thoughts straight when jumping from table to table.
By focusing on one variant you know that your strategy will be the same regardless of the table you're playing. This in turn will allow you to preserve as much of your win rate as possible, even if you increase the number of tables you play.
Use a Basic Poker Strategy
When you play multiple tables, it's very hard to adjust to how your opponents are playing as you aren't able to track their game as easily. This means that the best way to multi-table is to play a solid poker strategy that is hard to be exploited. By doing this, you give your opponents fewer opportunities to exploit you whilst playing a strategy that doesn't rely on exploiting your opponents.
Games such as hyper turbo sit and go are one of the best candidates for multi-tabling in poker as the decisions are a lot simpler than they would be in a deep cash game.
Set the Options for Optimized Play
With a lot of tables to keep track of and manage in a short space of time, it's easy to miss small details when playing that can lead to mistakes. It's best to try and minimize these mistakes where possible by making your setup as optimal as possible.
The main one is to make sure your table desktop size lets you clearly see all of the relevant information. You don't want to have to be squinting at the screen to see what your hand is or what the bet size is so make sure all text is readable. This is useful for PokerStars Zoom since you are consistently moving to newer tables each time you fold, and you need to know all the necessary information on the table with just a glance.
Another option you can change is to use a four-colored deck rather than a two-colored deck. Doing so makes it much easier to see flushes so you're less likely to mistakenly think you have one or fail to realize that there is one available.
Most US gambling sites allow you to change many visual settings such as table color, card size/display, stack display, etc., so have a look at these before you play and see which one is easiest for you to look at.
Take Advantage of Hotkeys
Hotkeys are becoming more and more prevalent in poker sites and make life so much easier if you're multi-tabling in poker. For the uninitiated, hotkeys are keyboard shortcuts that allow you to perform actions in the software with the tap of a key.
For example, instead of dragging your mouse over to and clicking the fold button to fold your hand, you can just press the letter 'F' on your keyboard when the table is highlighted, and your hand will be folded.
Not only does this save time when you're multi-tabling in poker, but it also limits the amount you need to use your mouse which your wrist will be thankful for if you're playing a long session!
Multi-Tabling in Poker: FAQ
What is multi-tabling in poker sites?
Multi-tabling in poker is the act of playing more than one table at a time. Due to the tables being virtual, you can sit at more than one table at a time and play multiple games simultaneously.
Can I multi-table poker games on any gambling site?
Some sites have restrictions surrounding multi-tabling in poker. Some will only allow you to play a certain number of tables at a time, some have no restrictions, and some don't allow it at all. It's best to check with the site before you start playing.
Why are players multi-tabling poker games?
By playing multiple tables at one time, a winning player can maximize the money they make per hour. E.g., if a player wins $10 an hour on one table but makes $7 an hour at three tables, they're more than twice as better off playing three tables.
Can any player multi-table poker games?
Anyone who has an account on a site that allows multi-tabling is allowed to do so. However, it is not recommended for new players and should only be done when you have sufficient experience in the game. Otherwise, you are likely to lose money at an alarming rate.
Is multi-tabling in poker worth it for non-professional players?
Whether or not multi-tabling in poker is worth it for non-professionals is dependent on what you want from the game. If you want to be entertained, then playing multiple tables eliminates the boredom you get from playing. However, if you want to focus and play well, playing single-table poker is the better option.
Whether you're a winning player trying to maximize their profits or a recreational player that doesn't want to get bored, multi-tabling in poker will allow you to achieve your goals.