Fixing Your Redline: Playing Fewer Tables

Phil Galfond
Phil will tell you too: more tables may make more money, but they stunt your growth,

One of the best things about online poker is that you can play more than one table at a time.

Instead of the grueling 20 hands an hour you may get live, online you may be able to get 1,000 hands or more.

Though more hands an hour is an obvious plus, there's also an obvious negative. The more tables you play, the less attention you can give each one of them.

Let's say your win rate is three big bets per 100 hands (3BB/100) over a large sample size when you play one table. If you double the amount of tables you play, in theory you double the amount of money you make.

But you can't just keep doubling your tables and keep making more and more money. Eventually, as you add more tables, your game will start to deteriorate.

You'll no longer be able to give each decision the required amount of thinking. You'll rush decisions to act on other tables, and you'll slip into auto pilot.

Bertrand Grospellier
Not everyone can play a million tables at once, ElkY-style.

Auto pilot is one of the major factors of a downward-sloping redline. When you slip into auto pilot you stop thinking.

And when you can't give each decision the required amount of thought, you'll make countless little mistakes.

No longer are you thinking, "My opponent is tight-aggressive and will probably peel with 99 on T 3 4." You're just thinking, " I raised pre-flop I c-bet, hurrrr."

You don't think, "If I c-bet this board I am going to have to fire multiple barrels."

So when you c-bet that flop and he calls, you shut down on the turn. He bets the river and you fold. Bam, you just wasted a bunch of money and hurt your redline.

Now picture doing that on 10 tables for two-plus hours. Similar situations pop up all the time, and if you're consistently on auto pilot, you'll be making mistakes like this all session long.

When your session is filled with small mistakes, your win rate - and especially your non-showdown win rate - is going to suffer.

How many tables should I be playing?

That's up to you. Only you know when you're giving each decision proper thought. You know when you're struggling and rushing your decisions.

Some people can play 12 tables at once without rushing decisions or going on auto pilot. Others may struggle with two.

Its up to you to figure out how many tables are right for you.

Tom Dwan
If you want to be durrrr, play less tables and focus on every decision.

But I make more with a smaller win rate and more tables

Well, that's probably true.

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out if you win at 3BB/100 playing two tables and 2BB/100 playing eight tables, and your only goal is making money, then play the eight tables.

If, however, your main goal is to improve as a poker player and move up in limits, then you may be better off in the short run playing less tables, making less overall money, but playing better poker.

When you massively multi-table, you may make more money but you stunt your poker growth.

It's up to you to decide what your goals are. Do you want to move up in limits and improve as a poker player? Or are you happy with where you are and how much money you're making currently?

If it's the former, you're better off playing less tables and paying more attention.

You'll make less money in the short term but down the road you'll be a lot better player than that massive multi-tabler - plus you'll have a super sexy upward sloping redline.

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