When is a good time to start Multi-Tabling?

Playing multiple tables has pretty much become the norm for online poker players. Actually, it’s a necessity for serious players looking to build up a bankroll or wanting to earn some regular extra spending cash. This is especially true for full-ring grinders. Finding a balance between playing a lot of tables and playing a quality game, though, is something many people struggle with.

Obviously, we start by playing one table at a time. So when are we ready to get that second table going… or third or fourth? Well, I would say you should definitely wait until you are comfortable with your game. By that I mean, you shouldn’t be struggling with questions like, “Should I open this ATo under-the-gun?” in a full-ring game. There should be no thoughts of, “Should I fold my QJo that I limped from middle position when someone raises behind me?” If these are questions you find yourself asking, you really need to work on your game and not worry about opening more tables. On the other hand, if you find yourself a little bored and being tempted to surf the net, check the forums, or chat in IRC while playing, then its probably time to open more tables.

So if you are playing one table and feel you are ready to add the second, but don’t know how to get started, here’s what you do. Open another table. It really is that simple. Some people want to make it more difficult than it has to be, but really, just open another table and see what happens. The best way I find to start is to size them so that both tables fit on your screen and you can see the action on both tables at the same time. Then focus. Watch the action occurring on both tables. Take notes. Make a plan for what you are going to do with your hand on one table at a time. Then watch other hands, and take more notes.

Actually, taking notes is really one of the most important activities you can do while playing. It helps you focus on the games at hand and really makes you consider what you are doing in relation to how others at the table are playing. And I can’t stress enough how important it is as you begin adding more and more tables. I know I can definitely remember times where I’ve won large pots or saved myself a lot of money simply because I had good notes on a player and had a good idea what they were trying to do with a particular hand. If you are unable to take notes while playing because you don’t think you have time or you can’t follow the action as you need, then you are playing too many tables and should cut down.

Additionally, if you are going to be playing fairly regularly and multi-tabling, it would be highly recommended to get software with a HUD (Heads Up Display), such as Hold’em Manager or Poker Tracker. This will aid in making decisions, as you will have more information available without having to rely solely on notes and memory. Just be cautious to not simply rely on a HUD without using good poker reads and solid notes.

Keep in mind that there is a fine line between the right number of tables and playing too many tables. Some grinders are so anxious to be playing 24 tables at once that they lose sight of what is really important – playing your “A” game. Experimentation may be the only real way to solve this problem. Some people can play 24 tables on autopilot, because that’s their game. However, this strategy won’t be recommended by many successful players, and for most people, playing fewer tables at a higher win rate will be much more profitable in the long run. It will also help you move up in levels faster and usually you will be more successful once moving up.

Many experienced players will tell you that at one point or another they had to reduce the number of tables they were playing and really focus on their game. It is so easy to just keep adding tables without realizing that although you may be playing more hands, your win rate could be dropping exponentially. In fact, you will often find that when low to mid-stakes players state monthly goals, they will often say, “I will not play more than 15 tables,” or something to that effect. This is because they realize that they have aspects of the game they need to work and focus on, and playing too many tables makes that very difficult.

Remember, just because someone plays 24 tables does not mean they are a great poker player, and playing that many tables shouldn’t necessarily be the goal. Find your happy medium playing more tables, but still being able to focus, make good decisions, and play your “A” game.

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