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Online Poker Strategy: Multi-Tabling

That guy sitting to your left, with the really weird screen nameóheís acting kinda funny, donít you think? Heís only playing like, 10% of his hands! Every time he bets, the amount is the same. Heís almost always folding to 3bets, and if he doesnít fold, heíll push! Whatís up with that?

Look him up on your poker clientís search feature. Chances are heís playing tons of tables simultaneously.

Multi-tabling is more common than you probably think. There are tons of people who play 8, 16, or even upwards of 20 tables at a time.

ďWhy the heck would anyone do that?Ē you ask. Good question!

Why Multi-Table?

There are two ways to increase your hourly earnings at online poker. The first is to move up in stakes. Playing 100NL? Move up to 200NL. If you arenít comfortable moving up stakes, a second way to raise your hourly is to increase the number of tables you play simultaneously.

For illustrationís sake, letís calculate your current hourly rate. Hereís the formula:

(BBís won per hundred hands) * ((average hands per hour per table * # of tables) / 100) * $BB = Win Rate in $

Letís assume your BB/100 on a single table is 7. You see an average of 80 hands per hour per table. You play $100NL, so the big blind is $1. Letís check out how much you can expect to earn per hour, playing 1 table.

(7 * ((80 * 1)/100) * 1) = $5.6

You can expect to win $5.6 per hour. Hardly a living, right? Well, letís see what happens if you decide to multi-table; youíll be playing 4 tables at a time:

(7 * (80 * 4)/100) * 1) = $22.4.

BOOM. Your hourly rate just (theoretically) quadrupled to $22.4. Sounds pretty good, right?

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Realistically, as you add tables, the quality of your play will decrease. Youíll tighten up, and yes, you will start to make more mistakes. This is a function of your ability to focus; you canít give 8 tables each the individual attention youíd be able to give just one.

Letís recalculate your theoretical hourly rate. Letís assume that for every 4 tables you add (after your original 4), your play gets 30% worse. Check out what 8 tables will do to your hourly rate:

(7 * (1-.30)) * (((80 * 8)/100) * 1) = hourly

4.9 * 6.4 = $31.36

So even with the deterioration of your play, you were able to tack on an extra $9 or so to your hourly. How about 12 tables?

(7 * ((1-(.30 * 2)) * (((80 * 12)/100) * 1) = hourly

2.8 * 9.6 = $26.88

See what happened there? Your hourly rate actually decreased from the $31.36 you would have earned per hour playing 8 tables.

What this means is simple: play within your means. Yes, you can boost your hourly rate by adding more tables, but you can also damage your hourly rate by overextending yourself. Thereís really no need to play a ton of tables at a time unless youíre extremely skilled at multi-tabling. And by extremely skilled I mean, you canít play poker any other way.

Multi-table, or Move Up?

Letís compare hourly rates. Which will earn you more: multi-tabling (8 tables), or moving up a level (sticking with 1 table)? Weíll use the same hypothetical scenario as we worked through above.

As youíll recall, your hourly rate multi-tabling 8 tables at $100NL is $31.36. If you move up to 200NL, where the big blind is $2, your single-tabling hourly would be:

(7 * ((80 * 1) / 100) * $2 = $11.2.

Not bad, but youíd still make more 8-tabling 100NL. What about 4 tables of $200NL?

(7 * ((80 * 4) / 100) *$2 = $44.8

As you can see, your hourly rate skyrockets when you move up just one level. Youíd earn significantly more per hour playing 4 tables of 200NL than you would playing 8 tables of 100NL.

Thus it makes sense to multi-table, within reason, if for some reason youíre avoiding raising the stakes. If youíre trying to pad your bankroll quickly to prepare for your jump, playing 8 or so tables could be a great way to do it. If youíre trying to maximize your earnings, however, it makes no sense to just keep adding tables at the lower levels.

Itís A Comfort ThingÖ

Youíll notice that the vast majority of online poker pros play 6 tables or less. Given the analysis weíve seen above, that makes sense. The marginal benefits of multi-tabling are diminishing, after a certain point.

If youíre looking for a high hourly rate (who isnít!) it makes a lot of sense to move up in stakes as quickly as you can. That said, if youíre not quite comfortable with the jump, stalling a bit by multi-tabling your comfortable level is a good way to go.


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