Spread The Wealth

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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy

This article is a part of the Poker Strategy series.

One of the great aspects of online poker is the ability to play at multiple tables simultaneously.  If you don’t believe me, try hopping from table to table on your next trip to your local casino or cardroom!  In fact, many online pros credit multi-tabling as a key to their success, especially in no-limit and pot-limit cash games.

For the sake of illustration, let us assume that you can choose between two scenarios when you sit down to play no-limit hold’em online cash games:

Scenario 1: One table, $5 small blind, $10 big blind, $500 (50 big blinds) buy-in
Scenario 2: Five tables, $1 small blind, $2 big blind, $100 (50 big blinds) buy-in at each table

At first glance these numbers appear to balance out.  What makes playing five simultaneous tables the better option?

More Hands Per Hour.  If an average online table deals sixty hands per hour, you’ll see sixty hands each hour at your single $5/$10 table.  When you play the five $1/$2 tables, you could see three hundred hands per hour – possibly more!  With a hand being dealt to you every twelve seconds, even players with the shortest attention spans shouldn’t get bored!

Also, with so many hands and so little time to make the correct decision, this high-speed brand of poker encourages players to limit their starting hand selection to the very best available options.  Most of these choices should be limited to Sklansky Group 1 Hands (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, A-Ks) and Group 2 Hands (TT, A-Qs, A-Js, K-Qs, A-Ko).  Due to the speed and frequency of new deals, you simply won’t have time to play your “lucky” J-To out of position or emulate the crazy bluff you saw on TV last week.  In this format, you’ll stick to tried-and-true ‘ABC’ poker.

Less Session Variance.  In Scenario 1, you make your ace-high flush on the turn and move all-in with your $500.  Your opponent calls with three queens and has you covered.  The board pairs sixes on the river, giving your opponent queens full of sixes and killing your flush.  If your $500 was a significant portion of your bankroll, you now face the difficult decision of either buying back in for another $500 or leaving a game you know you can beat.

In Scenario 2, a $100 loss on such a bad beat doesn’t cut nearly as deep.  In many cases, you will have made enough from your plays at the other four tables to soothe such a loss.  In statistical terms, these ups and downs are known as variance.  Any single-table setting will produce wild swings from session to session (and even within a session) depending on the quality of your play, the quality of your opponents and whether the cards fall for you or against you.  The multi-table approach smoothes out these bumps in the road so that the highs aren’t stratospherically high and the lows aren’t catastrophically low.

Same Players at Multiple Tables.  When you play multiple tables at lower stakes, you may often encounter the same opponents at several tables.  If you can track their tendencies over the course of several hands, you can loosen up your starting hand requirements to take advantage of their patterns.  Again, by watching many more hands in a much shorter time that you could in a single-table game, you can gather data and learn your opponents’ betting patterns at an accelerated rate and use these patterns against them immediately!

Shorter Play Sessions.  One side effect of seeing so many hands per hour is a form of ‘poker fatigue’.  With table screens popping up on your monitor like pesky popcorn kernels, you may lose track of your status at each table.  You may accidentally fold your AA and push all in with 32o when you meant to do the opposite.  Before you make such a costly mistake, take a moment to assess your chip stack, position and starting cards as well as any calls, raises, reraises or check-raises on the table.  If you start to feel tired or overwhelmed by the barrage of hands crying out for your attention, sit out a few hands or leave the tables entirely.  Remember, you’ll see the same number of hands in one hour that a typical online players sees in five hours and a typical live player sees in six to eight hours.  If single-table sessions are marathons, multi-table sessions are drag races!

If you like your poker fun, fast and furious, try to play multiple tables at lower stakes.  You may want to try two or three tables at first just to get a feel for the speed of the game.  Many online pros play eight, ten or more tables simultaneously, but new players shouldn’t overdo it right away.  Once you get used to the faster pace and rapid rhythms of multiple tables, you’ll be ready to ditch the slow-paced single-table play for the rocket ride of your poker life!

If you’ve enjoyed reading about my strategy tips, you can also read about my views on the news, people and places in poker at my new poker blog, www.pokerinfopage.com.

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1 Comment to Spread The Wealth

October 17, 2008

Good post and it furthers what I said on a previous post here at PokerBankrollBlog. If you get the chance check it out. (http://www.pokerbankrollblog.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-multi-tabling.htm). I do have 1 comment to add. You mention that since your are multi-tabling and could have the same opponents on several of your tables (this does happen often I agree), you should be able to track your opponents tendencies. This isn’t as easy as it seems. Let’s look at the numbers. You say you have approximately 12 secs between hands while playing 5 tables concurrently and if it takes you 1-2 seconds to make a decision (figuring out chips, odds and action might take more than 2 secs but lets go with it) that leaves you 10 secs to scan and analyze 5 tables. That is 2 secs/table to try an pick up betting patterns. If you can do that you are a machine. What I would suggest is to pick up PokerTracker3 or Hold’em Manager to do this for you, then all you have to do is scan your HUDs to see the their VPIP/PFR/AGF/etc and that should give you enough information to know if you can remove their money from them. Again, just my opinion.

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