Grinderschool Free Poker Strategy Articles
Thoughts on Multitabling
Jeffrey "JGB146" Blake is the owner and operator of Grinderschool.
Nearly every poker player has heard a story about a successful online player who is massively multi-tabling. Some play as many as 18 tables simultaneously. If these players have the experience, knowledge, and discipline to do this without making significant mistakes, they will likely make more profit than they would in playing the same style at fewer tables. Against tougher opponents, capable of playing more correct lines, this same "by-the-book" standard style becomes much less likely to be the optimal play. Thus most skilled multitablers will admit that their win-rate is reduced when multi-tabling. They make up for this with high volume of play. That, however, is not always possible.
First off, let's address the volume vs. quantity statement with some numbers:
Example: A player 12-tables and earns 1BB per 100 hands at each table. This player could increase his win-rate to 4BB per 100 hands if he dropped to two tables, so that he could focus on his opponents. For simplicity's sake, assume that each table plays 50 hands per hour.
By 12-tabling, he makes 6BB per hour. By two-tabling, he makes 4BB per hour. Clearly, he makes more by playing twelve tables.
Consider the impact of moving up in stakes: Against harder competition, he is only able to make 0.5BB per 100 hands while 12- tabling. By focusing on two tables, however, he is able to make some creative plays to deal with these tougher opponents. Thus he makes 3.5BB per 100 hands.
Now, at twelve tables, he makes 3BB per hour, while at two tables, he makes 3.5BB per hour. Clearly he is now better off playing only two tables.
Ultimately, poker is about making the most "correct" decisions. The more decisions you make, the more opportunity you have to make correct decisions. Adding more tables allows you to make more decisions. Thus more tables can lead to more correct decisions through greater volume, even if each individual decision is less likely to be correct.
There is catch, however. The more decisions you make in the same time frame, the less information you can consider for each decision. Each player must discover for himself when the decrease in information outweighs the benefits of increased decision volume. Some factors which impact this are:
Ability of player: How quickly you can evaluate information and how accurately you can observe that information.
Complexity of decisions: Beyond a certain point, the better an opponent, the more complicated a decision. Up to that point, however, skilled opponents can be more predictable. You must weigh the complexity of the decisions in each hand to know how much information is required.
Returning to poker, there are several different layers of information to collect:
Your position, stack sizes of yourself and your opponents, and the action to you
Tells from your opponent(s)
Your knowledge and history with the opponents already in the hand and those left to act
Your estimation of your opponents' ability to analyze each layer (including this one)
In choosing how many tables to play, you are estimating how much of that information you can collect in the time allotted and how much of that information you actually need in order to beat your current competition.
Any time you find your win-rate dropping, or you move between different stakes, strongly consider reducing the number of tables you play. Conversely, once your win-rate is solid and you feel completely comfortable, try adding another table to the mix. Eventually you will find your balance for maximizing your profit, with your own ideal ratio of decision-volume (more tables) and information requirements (fewer tables).