Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How to Play More Online Poker Tables

Play more online poker tables
A question that I get asked a lot is "how the heck do you play so many poker tables at once and keep track of everything that is going on?" I don't think I have ever covered this topic in detail here on this blog so here goes.

As many people know I used to be a huge mass multi-tabler. The majority of the now 8 million+ hands of online poker that I have played were still done while 24 tabling on Pokerstars. Why 24? Because that was (and still is I believe) the maximum number of tables that they will allow you to play.

Now I don't say this to brag. And also, I certainly didn't start playing this many tables or learn how to do it overnight. In fact when I first started playing on Stars in particular many years ago the table limit was only 5.

But more importantly I actually do not suggest playing anywhere near this many tables anymore (24) because it makes it very difficult to table select properly and make high quality decisions, both of which are absolutely crucial to your winrate in today's games. In fact these days you will usually find me playing anywhere between 6 and 12 tables at a time.

So this article will be more aimed at the person who is currently playing 1 or 2 tables and wants to know how to play 4 or 6 or even 10.

With that said let's get started!


One Step at a Time


The first thing that I always say when somebody asks me about multi-tabling is to take it one step at a time. Right now you should play the amount of tables which allows you to table select well and make high quality poker decisions on a consistent basis. 

If that number is currently 1, then that is completely fine.

Furthermore, when you do decide to experiment with playing more tables you should only ever add one more at a time. Nobody goes from 1 table to 4, 6 or 10 overnight. It doesn't matter how many tables you are currently playing, only add one more.

The reason why I suggest this is to make the transition as easy as possible. Even though I am going to discuss many ways to help you multi-table in this article, the bottom line is that your brain needs to get used to the faster pace of action.

This is something which simply requires time. You probably learned how to ride a bike with training wheels on it first, learned how to drive a car slowly in a parking lot. All of the same principles apply here.


Automatic Decisions


The other key to multi-tabling that I always point out is that once most of your decisions become automatic, multi-tabling becomes infinitely easier. What do I mean by automatic? I mean getting to a point where you do not have to think about what to do in a certain situation. You already know what the best play is.

When people struggle with playing multiple tables at once one of the main reasons why is a lack of time. What this translates to is "I need more time to think about what to do with this hand."

Now of course playing 8 million hands of poker will fix this problem in a hurry. I have literally seen every situation possible at the micros dozens or hundreds of times over. I have also therefore learned what works and what doesn't in 95%+ of these spots.

This is why I can play a huge number of tables at the same time and still show a positive winrate. I don't have to think, I can just do. But of course not everybody has the time to play 8 million hands of poker.


Standardize Every Decision


This is why I highly suggest standardizing nearly every decision that you make especially on the earlier streets (preflop and the flop). You should know exactly what amount you will open raise, 3Bet, 4Bet, which hands to do it with, from what positions and so on.

Furthermore, you should know which types of flops that you will CBet, which ones you will raise, which ones you will float and which ones you will give up on. If you have to constantly think about all of this stuff it is going to take you forever to play a hand of poker and it will make multi-tabling very difficult.

This is why in both of my books I went as far as suggesting the exact hands that the reader should play in every single position, the exact range to 3Bet with, how much to bet etc. I don't know any other poker book that goes into this much detail. And of course because of this I have opened myself up to much more criticism because some people will not agree with what I suggest.

And they are right. The ranges that I suggest are of course not perfect in every situation, in every format and in every game. Winning poker is all about adapting to the game conditions. There are always going to be some adjustments that you need to make on the fly.

However, the main reason why I chose to include these "playbooks" if you will in Crushing the Microstakes and Modern Small Stakes was to implore the reader to standardize all of their decisions on these streets.

When you get dealt KJs for instance in MP in a full ring cash game you should not have to think about what to do here. When a nit calls you from the blinds and checks to you on an 882 rainbow flop your decision here should be automatic as well.


How to Standardize Every Decision


Learning what the right play is in a standard situation like this is not that hard either. There are countless ways to improve your game and get the basics of a solid TAG strategy.

You can also use a poker tracking program as well to see for yourself what is profitable and what is not. Many people think that a program like Pokertracker is useful only for the HUD and checking your stats and graph at the end of your session.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The biggest strength of these programs is being able to use you database to your advantage by filtering for nearly any scenario on earth and finding out which line of action works the best. I talk about it a lot more in this article.

There are countless more ways to standardize your decisions such as breaking down player types and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each. You can even break down flops into specific types such as:

  • Triple Broadway
  • Double Broadway
  • Single Broadway
  • Paired
  • Raggedy
  • Monotone
  • Bingo

and so on.

The main point here is to stop spending so much time thinking about the really basic decisions in this game. All of your decisions on the earlier streets in particular should literally be automatic in your head.

If you need to write out some charts and stick them on your monitor then go ahead and do that. Do whatever it takes so that you stop wasting so much valuable time on mundane decisions.


Software Aids 


The last thing I will talk about is technical aids. I already mentioned one above which is using a poker tracking program and HUD. 

There are thousands of players at the micros and this is why having access to information about the player type right beside their name at the tables is so valuable. This is even more the case once you start playing, 6, 12 or more tables. It becomes absolutely impossible to keep track of every single player at the tables.

Secondly, another huge key to multi-tabling is reducing the number of pointless clicks. What do I mean by pointless clicks? I mean stuff like:

  • Selecting your seat
  • Choosing your buyin amount
  • Posting the blinds
  • Having to configure each bet amount manually

These are all things which many poker sites themselves have options to automate these days. Or third party multi-tabling aids such as TableNinja or even old school AHK scripts can help you out with this even more.

Pointless clicks are an absolute killer for any multi-tabler. A serious grinder could literally waste hundreds or even thousands of clicks in just a single session by having to do all of these things manually.


Table Layout


Lastly, you should organize your tables in such a way as to make it as easy as possible for you to multi-table. There are three main ways to organize the tables on your screen: tiling, stacking and cascading.


Tiling

Tiling your tables across your monitor means that there will be minimal overlap and you will be able to easily follow all of the action. Here is an example of tiling:

Tiling online poker tables

This is the way that I actually prefer to play these days. Some people will choose to make use of multiple monitors in order to have even more tables in front of them.

The biggest downside to tiling however (especially if you use multiple monitors) is head and eye movement. Long sessions can be a strain on your eyes and neck as you are constantly looking around for the latest action.


Stacking

Stacking solves the main drawback of tiling. Here is an example of stacking your tables (forgive me for the Arnold wallpaper, I am a big fan):

Stacking online poker tables

There are still 4 tables in the above picture. The only difference is that they are all stacked on top of each other. The table requiring action will immediately pop to the top of the stack.

When I used to play 24 tables this is always how I played. All 24 in one stack. The biggest advantage here is that there is no head and eye movement required. Your head, your mouse and your eyes pretty much stay in the same spot on your screen the entire time.

The drawback of course though is that it makes it a lot more difficult to keep track of all of the action or watch specific players. With some of the software aids mentioned above though I developed ways to quickly move a table in and out of the stack with a single click.


Cascading

I have never really cascaded my tables but some people might find it useful. It is kind of somewhere in the middle between tiling and stacking. Here is what cascading your tables looks like:

Cascading online poker tables

You will have overlap but you can also quickly find any table in the group and bring it up if you want. Again, this style never really appealed to me but it might work for some.

If you play on Pokerstars simply click "Layouts" on the top right corner of any table to instantly tile, stack or cascade your tables.


Final Thoughts


Increasing the amount of online poker tables that you play needn't be some huge mystery. And it isn't reserved for 21 year old geniuses either. It simply requires that you take a few steps to be more efficient at the poker tables.

And efficiency really is the key word which literally sums up this entire article.

First off, start slow. Only ever add one table at a time and allow your mind to get used to a faster pace of action. And always start by playing an amount of tables which is comfortable for you right now.

Secondly, learn to standardize your decisions. If you have to constantly think about very basic decisions such as how much to bet, which hands to play etc. then multi-tabling is going to be very difficult for you.

Lastly, use software aids or poker site options to minimize useless clicks and create a table layout which allows you to play a higher number of tables with more ease.

I hope that this article was useful for some of you out there who are interested in increasing your table count (and therefore winning more).

Make sure to pick up my free ebook which will teach you the strategy that I have used to crush the micro stakes for some of the highest winrates in online poker history.


If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.

If you found this article helpful then please do me a big favor and click the "Like" or "Tweet" buttons below.

How to increase the number of poker tables that you play

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for covering this topic Nathan! Your article is well thought out and covers the concepts and fundamentals needed for successful multi-tabling at any level of the game. The tip about breaking down flops into categories to help standardize your decisions is something I have never even thought about and I'll even use that bit of advice/strategy at the casino tables.

    -Ian

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    1. Glad it helped Ian! Thanks also again for the idea.

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  2. The Chinese say that the hardest thing to do is to choose one out of two. Once you learn how to choose one out of two you can easily choose one out of a thousand. Same in poker I suppose ) If you play well the number doesn't really matter that much. An edge in tempo may ruin game quality. Ah, I nearly forgot about winrate. If poker is all about winrate then sure - the more the better. For those who like ''em bunny quickies' there's a perfect chance to show'em up in Rush**poker ))For ne'er-do-wells...well...2-3 mid-stake tables will do )

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    1. Yup, there is no necessity to play more tables. But for those who view the game more as a business adding more tables can simply be seen as scaling up and increasing profit.

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    2. It's been covered in the past, but perhaps not here today -
      as the number of tables increases, the overall winrate will tend to decrease.
      this decrease will be offset by the additional tables, so that the overall winning of dollars per hour continues to rise, to a point.
      it's important to monitor that overall result (in the long term, of course) so that you don't end up costing yourself money by playing an enormous volume at an extremely small winrate.

      and then, one must consider rakeback or VIP type bonus deals.

      as always, it seems the answer in poker is "it depends".

      and, as always, Nathan is correct - until you can play 1 table well, you have no business playing 2.
      this holds for any X and X+1. :-)

      merry Christmas, all.

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    3. Yup all good points ekw. The hourly is really the most important thing. It depends on a number of different factors including the rakeback.

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  3. Great Read Nathan hope all is going well in Thailand, enjoy the asian food(and women) for me wish I were there . . . Take care man

    -D1G1TALFOX

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