Today's article will focus on multitable poker. Some of you might already be playing 6+ tables at a time, but for those of you who don't, or are in the process of adding more tables to your sessions, here are a couple of multitabling tips.
The great thing about online poker is that you have the possibility to play at more than one table at a time, which can be very profitable if you are a winning player because this enables you to play more hands and win more money. Then again, you often have to sacrifice a part of your winrate because you will have fewer solid reads on your opponents, seeing as you aren't just focussing your attention on one but eight tables at the same time.
A simple calculation does prove, however, that the profits outweigh the losses when playing at numerous tables at a time:
Lets say you are currently playing at two tables at the same time, and over the course of the last 2,000 hands (that's roughly 15 hours of play when playing two tables) you set a winrate of 10BB/100. When playing NL10 tables, this equals a profit of $20. If you now decide to start playing eight tables at once, and we assume that your winrate will drop to 6BB/100 (which is a very exaggerated assumption), you will play 8,000 hands in the same 15 hour period, which would result in a profit of $48! Therefore, although your winrate per table has gone down, your overall profit has increased considerably.
Ok, so multitabling is a good idea, but how on earth does someone manage to follow eight tables at the same time?! This is a question of practicing and making the right arrangements beforehand:
Make sure you are sitting in a quiet, tidy room at a desk that isn't covered with junk. It can also be irritating to have a house mate, girl/boy friend or mother walk into the room starting a conversation with you. The same counts for MSN/Skype; set your status to 'busy', 'offline' or just turn the whole thing off. You are playing poker, and that's the only thing you should be concentrating on.
It is also a good idea to have a comfortable chair that you can easily sit in for a couple of hours, but don't make it too comfortable, or you might fall asleep during your session. Playing poker when tired is –EV, so only play when you are 100% up for it, physically as well as mentally.
Your computer system
Having a good computer is of vital importance, as you wouldn't want your PC to suddenly shut down when you get dealt Aces and there's action in front of you. Also make sure you have a good mouse and a good set-up for your keyboard and monitor, as the effects of RSI (repetitive strain injury) are not something you should underestimate.
A good monitor is also important, as playing eight tables on an old 17" CRT monitor isn't going to work. Make sure to have at least a 19" screen with a resolution of 1600x1200.
It is important to run software like PokerOffice or Pokertracker with PokerAceHUD (or Gametime+), seeing as you can obtain a lot of information on your opponents from these programs. Also make sure to make notes on players once you have a good read like "thinks TPTK is the nuts" or "goes all-in preflop with JJ", seeing as this information can win you a lot of money.
Finally, there are a couple of small things, like music. Make a playlist with songs that don't distract you before you start your session. Stay away from the PN forum and make sure you have your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs running.
Setting of the poker room
With a resolution of 1600x1200, you can fit exactly 9 tables on your screen without having the tables overlap, as long as you can resize the tables to 520x390. With most poker rooms you will now still be able to see all the cards and all the betting. Turn off all unnecessary animations (dealing the cards one by one, avatars and possibly the "congratulations" message when winning a hand) and choose a calming background. You should try and not get distracted, so you might have to replace the picture of your favourite babe with a neutral black background. Choosing to play with a 4-colour deck can also be a good idea to help you see potential flushes more clearly.
Practice makes perfect
If you are used to playing one or two tables at a time, it might not be a good idea to add half a dozen tables to that list immediately. Taking small steps is the best way of adjusting, so instead of opening two tables next time you play, open three. Once this goes well, open up a fourth table, and so on. While the difference between playing one and five tables relatively big, it is only a small step to go from five to eight or nine tables. Don't be afraid to open that extra table during your next session. At the end of the day, you can close the table just as fast as you opened it if things aren't going very well.
When multitabling, you need to make sure to play your best game at all of your tables. Don't start gambling on one table because you are already up two buy-ins at table #6. Stealing blinds and making +EV moves are still very important aspects of your poker game.
If, during one of your sessions, you feel like things aren't going very well (you just suffered two major bad beats), sit out for one or two orbits, go to the bathroom or get something to eat/drink. It is also a good idea to have something to drink next to you when you start your session, so that, thirty minutes into your session, you won't be forced to get up when thirsty.
Taking breaks in between your sessions is very important. After having played for two or three hours, stop and make yourself some food, watch some TV, knit some socks for all I care, as long as your mind is not concentrating on poker for a while.
Once you're done with a session (try playing for at least an hour), analyse some of your hands of which you think you didn't play them correctly, with Pokertracker. Look at all the big pots you were involved in and make notes of things you need to pay more attention to. Try not to change your playing style too much. Don't start playing like a rock (9/8.5/1) because you feel you don't have enough time to click. Once you realise you are starting to play too tight, it might be a good idea to close one or two of your tables for now.
And with this, we have reached the end of the article. I hope you were able to learn a few things and I didn't forget anything, but luckily there's always the forum where you can leave comments or ask questions.