Throwing Multitablers a Curve Ball

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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy

Submitted by James, this article belongs to the Poker Strategy series.

If you play cash games online, especially full ring, you’re bound to run into a lot of multitablers. Hell, you might even be a multitabler yourself. Multitabling gets more and more popular everyday. Players can earn a decent hourly income at fairly low stakes where fish make up a larger percentage of the player pool. You can also rack up a lot of bonus money or rakeback in the process. I play 24 tables at once on PokerStars, and I am aware that there are 100’s of others doing the same on any given night. You can read more about my experiences as a mass tabling, microstakes professional player here.

I, like most multitablers, rely fairly heavily on a heads up display or HUD for a quick overview of each players’ stats at each table. These stats give me a lot of general information such as how loose/tight or passive/aggressive they are, as well as more specific things like how often they have folded to a continuation bet on the flop, how often they 3bet preflop (to 3bet in poker is to re-raise an initial raiser, editorial), or even how often they win at showdown. There are two basic kinds of multitablers. Both play a tight aggressive style, but one plays with a full 100bb stack, and the other buys in for only 20bb.

Many of these players are fairly easy to beat and are generally trying to stay out of your way, but some of them are going to make life quite difficult for you, especially when they are to your left (meaning they will act after you on the table, editorial). Both the full and shortstack players will 3bet you quite light (i.e re-raise you with medium hands, editorial) when you are out of position forcing you to either fold or continue with a weak hand. They’re positionally aware players, and realize that you are also positionally aware. They see you playing tight in early position and trying to steal blinds and isolate fishy limpers in late position at a much higher frequency. So they capitalize on this weakness by either 3betting you, or floating your preflop raise and applying pressure postflop.

Many people refuse to admit that they cannot overcome the positional disadvantage and just leave the table or try to get a better seat and just end up losing money on that table. Don’t fall into this trap. If there are good regulars 3betting you and floating your flop bets, or aggressive shortstacks pushing their stack in every other time you try to steal blinds or isolate, get off the table – or adjust.

It kinda sucks, but the easiest way to adjust to these guys when they have position on you, is to just tighten up considerably. But wait a second, won’t they know that we’ve tightened up and that our range is really strong now? No. I came to this conclusion because I am a mass tabler myself, and if somebody whom I have over 5k hands of data on is suddenly folding everything but Aces, I’m not going to know the difference. I’m playing way too many tables to notice and who cares anyway because I’m there just to stack fish right? The HUD displays stats based on the entire sample that you have on the player, not just for the session.

The reason that we play loose in late position is so that we can steal blinds and isolate limpers. We don’t need a strong hand to do this a lot of the time. When we have good players to our left who are fully aware of our plan however, they are going to punish us for it. In the Art of War, SunTzu says that we should ‘Appear strong when we are weak’ and appear weak when we are strong’. When we raise to 3x bb in the CO (the CO or cut-off position is the position just before the dealer button, editorial), the good regular or aggressive shortstack is going to see that as weak. They know that I’m raising over 30% of the time here and that my continuance range when facing a 3bet or shove is ridiculously tiny. But what if say tomorrow’s session, I’m on a table where I have two aggressive shortstacks and a good regular in the 3 seats to my left? Based on what their HUD is telling them, they will assume that all my late position raises represent a fairly wide range. Everytime the good regular 3bets me, he’s sticking in anywhere from 10-15 more bb into the pot, and the shortstacker is sticking in at least 20. If I tighten up drastically at this one table, I won’t be making much money from stealing blinds and isolating fish but I will have an opportunity to pick up a nice size pot whenever I pick up a strong hand that can continue against a 3bet from these players who assume my range is much wider than it actually is. I can start 4betting with greater frequency when facing a 3bet because my range will be much stronger. One thing that I have found is that if you 4bet a reg a couple times in the same session, they tend to tilt. If I’ve already 4bet them a couple of times with say QQ or KK, I can start widening my 4bet value range and begin 4betting hands like JJ and AQ which are way ahead of a lot of the hands they may decide to fight back with by 5bet shoving in frustration.

Now when I have players to my left that will let me run over the blinds and isolate the fish with impunity, then I’m going to do it even more often than I normally do. The end result will mean that I still run around the same Vp$ip (voluntarily put money in pot) overall, but I’ll be playing very loose with weak tight players to my left, and rather tight with positionally aware aggressives to my left.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed and got something out of this article. I’m currently blogging and writing articles at www.phatstackspoker.com.

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1 Comment to Throwing Multitablers a Curve Ball

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January 11, 2010

Good stuff on Poker. I was searching for some online information on online poker strategy and landed on your site..I found this to be such a good site on poker information that I can’t help leaving a comment here.

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