multi table poker downsides vs single table

Why Multi-Tabling Is Costing You Money

Multi-tabling is extremely common in the world of online poker.

Many players will choose to sit at multiple tables at the same time, and will see and play considerably more hands per hour than those who do not. Of course, there is justification for this: if you are proven to be a winning player at the stakes which you are playing, more volume equals more money.

However, playing numerous tables at once also has its downsides. Multi-tabling negatively impacts your ability to think about the decisions you face on the felt in a major way.

With limited time to think about your strategy for each hand, you’ll make decisions without considering the reasons why you should or should not make them. Bad strategic habits can develop when multi-tabling and playing at a single table once in a while will help eliminate those bad habits.

Multi-tabling is a great way to boost your hourly and bankroll, but this article will demonstrate how focusing on one table is a great way to fine-tune your poker game.

First, I’ll provide commentary on a 5-minute session I played while on 4 tables. I’ll then do the same thing while playing a single table. See for yourself how much more strategic consideration is given when playing only one table!

Prefer watching to reading? Scroll to the bottom of this page for the video version of this article.

Multi-Table Session

First, I played a 4-table session–consisting of three $10/$20 NLH tables and one $10/20 PLO table–on the Ignition network. Mixing game types, as I’ve done here, in itself isn’t advisable as different variants of poker demand different strategies.

Playing different games at the same time can get confusing for this reason, so it is recommended to stick to one type of poker when multi-tabling. I decided to throw in the PLO table when there was a serious lack of NLH action on the site.

The first interesting hand of the session occurs on the 4-handed PLO table.

Hero is dealt ad 8 of spades queen of spades 4h in the CO

Hero raises to $70 (3.5x), BTN folds, SB calls $60 more, BB folds

This hand can also be folded preflop, but my open is justified given that players at these stakes generally don’t 3-bet enough. I like this opening size, as it decreases the likelihood of multiple players seeing a flop and increases the chance of me playing the hand in position.

(Pot: $160) The flop comes 8c 7d 5h

SB checks, Hero checks back

The flop gives us top pair and a gutshot straight-draw. The SB checks, and I elect to check back as my hand is both too thin to be bet for value and susceptible to a check-raise. By checking, I control the size of the pot and retain my equity to see a turn.

(Pot: $160) The turn is the 7c

SB checks again, Hero checks back

(Pot: $160) The river is the 5s

SB bets $160, Hero calls $160

Given the sizing of this bet, SB’s range is polarized, meaning that our opponent has either a very strong hand or a very weak one. After some thought, I decide to call with just a pair of eights.

Villain shows down ace of clubs ks jh 2s – a bluff

Hero wins $480 with two pair.

In regards to my focus, I noticed that I stopped paying attention to the action on other tables when faced with the river bet on the PLO table. I was fortunate that I didn’t have any other hands to play whilst in this spot; had I been pressured to make other decisions at the time, I might not have been able to think about villain’s bet long enough to make the call.

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The next couple of action hands occur at the same time and I begin to notice how my thought processes become more rushed than I’d like.

Hero is dealt kd kc 7s 7d in the BB

CO raises to $70, BTN folds, SB folds, Hero 3-bets to $220, CO calls $150 more

(Pot: $450) The flop comes 9h 8d 5d

Hero checks, CO bets $225, Hero raises to $1,125, CO jams for $2650 total, Hero calls

The money goes in on the flop after I check-raise with a pair of Kings, a gutshot straight-draw and the second-nut flush draw.

The CO shows ad 9d 8h 5h

(Pot: $5830) The turn is the 8s

That’s not a good card.

(Pot: $5830) The river is the 6d

CO wins $5830 with a full house.

Meanwhile, at one of the NL tables.

Hero is dealt 4c 4h in the CO

Hero raises to $40, BTN calls, SB calls, BB folds

(Pot: $153) The flop comes kh qs 5c

SB checks, Hero bets $80, BTN calls, SB folds

(Pot: $313) The turn is the 8d

Hero bets $220, BTN calls

(Pot: $753) The river is the 2d

Hero checks, BTN checks back

BTN shows kd jd

BTN wins $753 with a pair of Kings.

I c-bet the flop into 2 players. After getting called, I barrel again on the turn. I found that I wasn’t able to think about this hand as much as I’d like (especially in terms of optimal bet sizing for my range), as I was still thinking about the $6,000 pot I was in the middle of losing.

You’ll find that situations like this occur all too frequently when playing poker multi-tabling. It can be difficult to think about a decision on one table clearly and fully when you are trying to deal with the inevitable variance of poker on another.

Focusing On A Single Table

After playing a multi-table session, I decided to focus all my attention on a single $10/$20 NLH table. The aim of this was to emphasize the opportunity that 1-tabling presents, allowing you to think about strategy in great detail without being disrupted by action at other tables.

I instantly noticed the way in which I was paying attention to every detail at the table – even during hands which I was not playing. As poker is a game of imperfect information, you must use every piece of information that you can to inform your strategic decisions. By taking note of the tendencies of your opponents, you can begin to develop strategies to exploit them.

This type of in-depth analysis is simply not available when multi-tabling; gathering information on your opponents when you can will help you make those big reads when you need to. 

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The first playable hand I get dealt is a premium one.

Hero is dealt ad kd from the BTN

Hero raises to $50, SB folds, BB folds

Hero wins $30

I open to 2.5x and unfortunately both the SB and BB fold. Given the time I have to reflect upon my play now that I am 1-tabling, I am able to consider my opening size. Raising to 2.5x may be perceived as a size that a ‘reg’ (experienced poker player) would use. Therefore, on reflection, I figured that I could use an opening size that is perceived as one used by weak players, such as the min-raise.

Again, single-tabling provided me with an opportunity to give thought to these more subtle aspects of my poker game. Had I been multi-tabling, a nuanced strategic adjustment such as this one would likely have gone unnoticed.

Hero is dealt 7s 7c in the SB

BTN raises to $50, Hero 3-bets to $190, BTN 4-bets to $420, Hero calls

(Pot: $858) The flop comes ad ks 6c

Hero checks, BTN checks

(Pot: $858) The turn is the qd

Hero checks, BTN bets $390, Hero folds

The importance of reflection was demonstrated again after I lost this hand.

After the action, I was able to give more thought to my strategy when responding to 4-bets after 3-betting with middle pocket-pairs. Like with the open sizing considerations made after the AdKd hand, the slower pace of poker when playing only one table allowed me to dedicate time honing a particular aspect of my game.

The Benefits Of Single Tabling Compared to Multi-Tabling

While multi-tabling undoubtedly has its place in online poker, focusing on only one table during a session will improve your game at a much faster rate.

When playing many hands at once, players have a tendency to make automatic decisions and give little thought to spots that can be strategically eye-opening when looked at more closely.

If you give yourself the necessary time required to properly think about a specific hand or action, you will begin to recognize the more subtle elements of poker strategy that require attention in order to rank among the very elite in the game.

Best of all, dedicating time to consider specific spots in-depth during these 1-tabling sessions will make your multi-tabling game stronger and more confident in the future.

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Why Multi-Tabling Is Costing You Money (Video)

I'm a professional poker player and one of the pros here on UpswingPoker.com.I'm a WSOP Bracelet winner, LAPT (Latin American Poker Tour) tournament winner and a multi-million dollar winner of live & online tournaments.

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