One of the best things about the internet is that it gives you the opportunity to scale; grow bigger by leveraging software, the cloud and other people.
In the case of online poker, you’re able to scale up the number of tables you play because you don’t have to physically sit at any one table. You can virtually sit down at as many tables as you’d like (or are allowed). This is known as multi-tabling, and is one of the reasons why we’ve seen such an explosion of young, professional poker players earning thousands of dollars every year online.
The purpose of this article will be to explain multi-tabling in more detail; why you should multi-table, how it increases your hourly rate and how to multi-table successfully.
Why Multi-Table in Poker?
There are a number of reason why you might consider multi-tabling in poker:
- Higher hourly rate. For example, if you know that you earn $5 per game and can play 2 games per hour, then your hourly rate would be $10. However, if you can play 2 tables at a time than your hourly rate goes to $20. 3 tables means a hourly rate of $30, and so on.
- More hands and games. This translates to experience. The more hands and games you get under your belt the more mistakes you’ll make, and in turn the more you’ll learn.
- More action. Playing one table at a time is boring, even for the most incompetent poker players. Having more tables running will give you constant opportunities to make decisions.
- Go pro. It’s much easier and faster to go pro once you’re multi-tabling, assuming you’re a profitable poker player to begin with.
There are downsides to multi-tabling, of course. Too many tables leads to lower $ per game averages, more mistakes, robotic playing and stunted growth.
That said, the key to multi-tabling successfully comes down to balance, like pretty much anything else in life. You need to find the line between quality and quantity.
How Much Extra Can You Earn Multi-tabling in Poker?
As I explained above, the simple way of figuring it out is knowing what your hourly rate is for the number of tables you play already, and multiplying that by the number of tables you plan to play total. So if you make $10 per hour 1 tabling, and can finish two games per hour, then adding 5 more tables would mean that you play 12 tables per hour. At $5 per table that means you can make $60 per hour.
However, it’s not that black and white. Meaning, with one table running you can concentrate 100%. However, the more tables you add the less “poker” you actually play. With that your ROI (profit per game) goes down. Say your ROI goes down to $4 per game when you get to 10 tables at once, but is still at $5 per game when you have 7 tables up. What’s more worthwhile?
- 10 tables @ $4 – $80/hour
- 7 tables @ $5 – $70/hour
In this case the small drop is still more profitable. But what if you only earned $3 per game playing 12 tables at once?
- 12 tables @ $3 – $72/hour
- 10 tables @ $4 – $80/hour
- 7 tables @ $5 – $70/hour
So 10 tabling would make more sense than 12. In fact, I’d rather play 7 tables than 12, despite earning $2 less per hour. It’s less stress, and I can play (and learn) quality poker. But hopefully you see what I’m getting at here. Multi-tabling is about finding a balance, and the only way to do that is to experiment.
5 Tips to Multi-Tabling Successfully
I thought I’d wrap this article up with a few tips on how to multi-table successfully. This is from personal experience, so please take it seriously.
1. Start slow. If you’re only playing 2 tables now, don’t add 5 at once. It’s too much to get used to. Instead, what I recommend doing is adding 1-2 tables at a time. Then maybe once every couple of days or once per week add a couple more. This gives you time to adjust so that you can make your decisions fast enough to not time out.
2. Play fake money or lower stakes. One way to practice is to play lower stakes or for fake money. Lower stakes might be the better option since many sites limit how many free games that you can have up at once (PokerStars). Plus you can still earn money while playing, not to mention force yourself to make real decisions because you have actual money on the line.
3. Take advantage of tools. If you have the resources I would buy a HUD and hotkey setup. A HUD will take all the hands you play and display stats on your opponents. Things like how often they play hands, raise, c-bet and more. So that eliminates the need for paying attention to every detail on every table.
Auto hotkey software will allow you to turn your mouse and/or keyboard into a hotkey setup. So you can setup buttons like f = fold, c = call, up arrow = cycle through tables and so on. A full setup will cost you between $100-$150. There are free hotkey programs, however, there is no support and you’ll have to set it up yourself.
4. Turn off distractions. This includes chat, Skype, IM, your TV, cell phone and so on. If you have that much free time to play with these things, you can add more tables.
5. Decide if you want to do quality over quantity. I say this because there are usually two types of players — guys who play 10 or so tables that strive for quality. They want to earn as much per game as possible, lessen variance and get better so that they can move up. On the other hand, you have the guys that want to play 15, 20, 30 or more tables. They can build a bankroll quickly, but at the same time they don’t get better and they see more variance. There’s no right or wrong here — it just comes down to your goals.