A Beginner’s Guide to Multi-Tabling

Multi-tabling on an iPad

The simple fact of the matter is this: if you want to earn serious money at the poker table, you really need to multi-table. It is, however, something of a double-edged sword, ready to either make or break you, so it is incredibly important to understand everything you can about this poker art-form before deciding to open that extra table and stretch your poker abilities.

This guide is designed for those who have never multi-tabled before. It is not a comprehensive guide to every nuance of the craft; instead, it’s an overview of the different important aspects and a guide to the basic concepts. It will set you on your way, but then it will be up to you to hone your skills and progress within the game, as you take on better opponents at higher stakes tables…

What is Multi-Tabling?

Multi-tabling is something that nearly all professional online players do, as well as a large number of more experienced amateur players. It involves playing at two or more poker tables at the same time, therefore doubling the amount of hands you play in a specific period of time. The world record for the number of tables played simultaneously belongs to French poker professional Bertrand “ElKy” Grospellier, who managed to play 62 in an hour – don’t worry though, as a beginner you’ll only be playing at two to start with!

What are the Advantages of Multi-Tabling?

Thumbs up on a green splashYou won’t be surprised to know that there are many advantages to multi-tabling – after all, if there weren’t, the professionals wouldn’t ever bother with it! Below are the two main ones…

  • Without doubt the biggest advantage to multi-tabling is that the amount of money you can win increases with the addition of every new table to your screen. Of course, you can lose more as well, as you’ll see further down the page.
  • Excitement is the other factor that attracts people to multi-tabling. Let’s face it: poker can get pretty boring sometimes if you land on a table with absolutely no action or where every player seems to take an age to make a decision. Multi-tabling means that you are constantly thinking, never able to take your eyes away from the screen and therefore poker once again becomes the game you love: the game that brings excitement around every single corner. The more tables you play, the more chances there are of getting involved in some seriously interesting hands!

What are the Disadvantages of Multi-Tabling?

Thumbs down on a red splashMake no mistake: multi-tabling does also have some big disadvantages too, and we’ve listed the main ones below. Don’t let them scare you too much though – just keep an eye on how you are doing and don’t be afraid to stop if it isn’t working for you.

  • When you multi-table, you are making trade-off. This trade-off is a simple one: you increase the number of hands you play, but decrease the amount of time you can think about them, as there will always be another hand waiting for your attention before time runs out. Therefore, while there’s more chance of being involved in a winning hand, there’s also an increased chance that, due to the limited thinking time you have, you’ll fail to maximise your winnings.
  • The other main disadvantage is the more obvious of the two: while playing more tables leads to more chances of winning, it also leads to more chances of losing too. This means that, in order to multi-table, you need to have a bankroll capable of taking a few big hits over time, and you also need to understand how to react to these big hits more regularly. Multi-tabling is effectively the poker equivalent of spread betting: you can win more, but you can also lose a lot more too.

Starting to Multi-Table

Starting to multi-table can be a daunting prospect, with action coming at you thick and fast from all angles. The fact of the matter is this: some people simply aren’t built for multi-tabling, and therefore should stick to playing a single table.

Start Small

If you are someone who thinks they can take it, the first way to start playing is simple: don’t over extend yourself. Always, always, always start by just playing two tables and never jump straight in and try to play ten at a time! That way, you’ll get used to the challenge of multi-tabling and won’t lose loads of money.

Bankroll Management

ElKy multi-tablingSecondly, you should carefully consider your bankroll before beginning to multi-table, as any good poker player knows that protecting their bankroll is absolutely vital. Those playing No-Limit Hold ‘Em ring games should have around 20x their buy-in as a bankroll, meaning that if the maximum buy-in is $10, they should have $200 in their account. If you are playing two $10 tables simultaneously though, it means your buy-in actually totals $20, therefore you should have a bankroll of $400. So, multi-tabling safely is only possible for those with reasonable bankrolls – if this doesn’t apply to you, grind away on one table until you do, or play really low stakes when multi-tabling.

Table Selection Still Counts

It is also very important not to get sloppy with your table selection, as we all know that this is incredibly important. In the heat of the game, it is possible to forget to look around and see if you are on a good table or not. For example, if you have a highly aggressive player to your left, you’d normally stand up and find another table. But when multi-tabling, it is easy to overlook this and get caught up with the action on other tables instead. So, take stock of every table carefully, and don’t be afraid to leave one of them if it isn’t working.

Is Multi-Tabling For You?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to quit if it isn’t working out for you. As stated earlier, multi-tabling is something that doesn’t suit everyone. It might be that playing tournaments is more your forte? Or perhaps you are better off playing much higher stakes, but at one table? It might even be that a different type of poker is more your thing? Don’t risk your bankroll simply because you are too proud to admit that multi-tabling isn’t something you are great at…

So, there you have it – a beginner’s guide to multi-tabling. Don’t forget to check out our other strategy guides on subjects such as position and when to fold, as they will only help to make you an even better player when you sit down to a table of poker on your mobile!

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