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The Essential Guide to Poker Multi-Tabling (w/ Tips & Video)

Multi-tabling is probably the best thing about playing poker online. 

Well, that and you can avoid dealing with the three S's of live poker:

  • Slow games
  • Sloppy dealing and
  • Stinky degenerates

But I digress.

If you aren't multi-tabling now you better start learning, because if you're not you're simply throwing good poker money away. 

How Multi-Tabling Has Changed Poker

Multi-tabling has changed the way poker is played. Never before could someone make a living playing 10¢/25¢ but you can bet your bottom dollar there are more than a few people 20-tabling "the quarter" now for a tidy monthly sum.

888poker multi tabling

Many people - mostly live poker nits - believe that multi-tabling is a waste of time. Their rationale is that when playing multiple tables it's impossible to give each decision the required amount of thought.

To a certain extent these naysayers are right. Playing more tables does cut back on the time you have to make crucial strategic decisions.

So, yes: when multi-tabling, you generally won't be able to play your absolute A++ game.

However, because you're playing so many more hands, your A game on four tables is going to net you more money in the long run than your super A++ game on one table.

This is why people multi-table. They give up a small edge in their decision-making ability to gain a large edge in sheer volume of hands and, in the end, profitability.

Before You Play Many, Master One

If you're just learning to play online poker, multi-tabling is not for you. Before you start adding more tables you should master playing just one.

Seeing more hands per hour means you'll have to make more decisions. Having to make decisions in a number of pots at the same time can overwhelm new players.

The last situation you want to face is to be contemplating a large river raise on one table and then time out with aces on another.

Start out slowly. Nobody runs before they walk. If you're having trouble following the action on one or two tables, don't add more. Slowly ease your way into playing more than one game.

Once you're comfortable playing one game, add another. If that makes you feel too pressured, drop back to one game. Otherwise you'll make bad decisions.

Bad decisions lead to losing money, which, clearly, is the opposite of what you want to accomplish by adding more tables. If you feel overwhelmed when in the middle of a session, just relax and play some ABC poker.

poker multi-table strategy
Don't sleep on table selection.

There's no need to get fancy. With the extra tables you're on, you're going to be getting many more hands an hour. You can pass up those marginal situations because another, more profitable situation is just around the corner.

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Recognize Your Tough Spot

It doesn't matter if you're playing four tables or 14: when the decisions start piling up you have to be able to prioritize.

You need to be able to quickly recognize which decisions are easy and which decisions require more thought.

In the heat of battle you'll rarely come up against multiple deep-thinking decisions all at once. Often you're going to be faced with one tough decision and several easy decisions.

What you should do is recognize your tough spot, take a good look at the situation and give that decision all of your brain power. Then go around to your other tables and make the easy pre-flop raise/fold/call decisions on autopilot.

A good multi-tabler can give a setup on one table deep thought while simultaneously acting on completely different situations on other tables.

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Don't Get Complacent on Table Selection!

Once you start playing six or more tables, things can get pretty hectic. Since you're making decisions every few seconds it can be easy to get complacent on table selection.

This is a mistake. Just because you're playing more tables does not mean you should stay at a table with a LAG who's three-betting all of your openings.

If the table is too tight for your tastes, or you have an aggressive player on your left, seek out better games. There's no reason to subject yourself to those conditions when there are hundreds of games available at any given time.

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Know Your Limit, Play Within It

Don't ever play more tables than you're comfortable with! This applies to old salts as much as it does to those new to multi-tabling. Everyone has a critical mass of tables they can manage/pay attention to the action on and still be profitable.

When you find that point, stick with it. Once you start playing too many tables and going on autopilot for your big decisions, the law of diminishing returns sets in.

Your game, and ultimately your profits, will suffer. Don''t let this happen to you. Autopilot is a necessary evil to a degree when multi-tabling but letting it take over completely will cost you money.

Related Reading:

5 Tips for Better Poker Multi-Tabling

Playing online poker is all about maximizing your expectation. Good players do this by playing more tables.

It may seem difficult at first but it will come to you with time. If you're only playing one table at a time online, you're leaving money on the table. If you're a winning player you should have no trouble (with a little adjustment) adding a few more tables.

Here are five quick tips to get you pointed in the right direction:

1) Use a Four-Color Deck

The four-color deck is easily the most important option for multi-tabling. Red hearts, black spades, green clubs and blue diamonds. Sounds weird at first, but you'll get used to it quickly. At first glance you can tell which flush draws got there and which missed.

poker four color deck

Two-colored decks are for grandpas and live poker. Get with the times.

2) Stick to the Simplest Themes

Many online poker rooms have several different themes for you to choose from. But don't try and use all the bells and whistles they have when you're multi-tabling.

Get rid of the distractions. PokerStars' hyper-simple theme is a great example of a nice table setup perfect for multi-tabling.

3) Take Notes

Even if you can't pay attention to every single hand going on, make sure you watch the big ones and take detailed notes. These notes will stay with the player and whenever you run into that player again you can refer to them.

Try and make them short and sweet and informative. "Check-raises flop with combo draw" is a lot better than "Jackass sucks out with flush."

Related Reading:

4) Figure Out a System for Organizing Your Tables

Some people stack the tables; others tile. Find out what works for you so you can quickly refer to whichever table the action is on.

A personal tip if you are multi-tabling tournaments: When I play 12 or more tables I will sort my tournaments by blind level. Highest blinds go in the top left with the rest of the tables sorted toward the smallest blinds in the bottom right.

5) Sit in the Same Seat

A lot of poker sites have an option so you can always sit in the same seat at the table. The software will just rotate the table around you.

This option is invaluable to a massive multi-tabler. Finding where you are sitting on all tables when you have to make split-second decisions can be a daunting task. If you're always in the same seat, though, you know exactly where to look when the action is on you.

Randy “nanonoko” Lew's Top 5 Multi-Tabling Secrets (VIDEO)

Randy Lew holds the Guinness World Record for the most hands of online poker played in eight hours.  Lew, who plays online under the screen-name “nanonoko," is a member of Team PokerStars Online and regularly plays up to 24 tables of online poker at a time.

In this poker strategy video Lew goes into the details of important aspects of multi-tabling like minimizing distractions, using a heads-up display and setting up hotkeys. Watch the video below to hear the secrets from nanonoko himself!

*Editor's note: The following tips are paraphrased from the video.

#5: Tiling Tables is Better than Stacking

Tiling is better than stacking because you can follow all the action. When you stack the tables you really can't follow on a street-by-street basis. A lot of the time when you get an action while stacking, a table just pops up and you're already on the river.

Whereas when you're tiling you can follow the action preflop, flop and post-flop and it's much easier to make good decisions in tough spots.

Randy Lew multi-table secrets
Multi-table guru Randy Lew.

#4: Use Hotkeys

Hotkeys are useful in poker because they allow you to make decisions really quickly. If you're playing a lot of tables you don't really have time to click the very specific spot where the fold button is.

With hotkeys you can hover over the whole table area and click the fold button. The most important hotkeys to have are the default actions like checking and folding.

You need hotkeys for the most basic decisions because those are the ones you're going to be using the most. Also having some kind of bet-sizing hotkeys is really important. If you always make it three big blinds before the flop just make a hotkey for it.

Every action you save is just one less strain on your hand and saves you time.

#3: Minimize Distractions

There are times you'll be playing and be really in the zone and then all of a sudden your phone lights up and you're wondering who messaged you or what's going on. It's important not to have any distractions so you can just focus on playing your best.

multi-table hud
HUDs and colors help.

#2: Use a Heads-Up Display (HUD)

It's really important to have a heads-up display when you're multi-tabling because you need to make decisions really quickly and you need to know who the tight and loose players are.

If you're not paying close attention you won't have all that information, but a HUD can tell you really quickly. Then you'll be able to focus on the action at hand as opposed to having to pay attention to every player.

#1: Add Tables Slowly

Add tables slowly because if you try to do it all overnight you're going to get flustered because you're probably not going to be winning as much. It might be demoralizing if you become a break-even player or even start losing because you're playing too many tables.

You want to think about your winrate first because then when you add more tables you'll actually be able to win more money. Wait until you're comfortable and then add another table. There's no rush to become a multi-table master.

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2016-08-05 10:46:16

nice article, I wrote an article on multi-tabling recently.

2013-06-20 11:40:44

If you are impatient like me, multi-tabling and rush- poker are ideal. ‘Your $/hr will thank you.’ seeing as i’m not amazing at poker, 4 tables increases my earnings from maybe $5-10 /h average to 20-40. very nice. Figures like this means I don’t tilt and end up losing! After 1 bad beat, only a little patience is needed before a premium hand comes along.

2012-01-22 01:56:26

I remember when I first started playing no limit I would sit for hours at 1 table. I think this is excellent training as it helps develop patience. I tried to play 2 tables but it got out of hand and I could not concentrate. Now playing 4 tables is ok for me and I am very relaxed. Still occasionally a lot happens at once but the auto pilot thing kicks in. After you have mastered multi tabling I think its pretty hard to settle for One table again, unless you are perhaps playing an MTT.

90 ball bingo developer
2010-06-25 07:46:09

Keep in mind is your level of expertise in the particular form of poker that you’re playing. If all you ever play is no limit hold’em sit-n-gos then you should figure out how many games is right for you and stick with it. But if you almost always play pot limit Omaha cash games, and sometimes you play limit hold’em SNG’s and on occasion you play no limit hold’em multi-tables you need to adjust your number of games based on what type of games or combination of games you’re playing.

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