Poker 101: Tips on Learning How to Play Online Poker in Multiple Games at Once
This article is part of my series 'Poker Culture, Strategy & Commentary'.
Over the past few years, online poker has become a popular pastime all around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people are playing at this very moment, at stakes ranging from free poker to $1000/$2000 or even higher. Part of the appeal is that in stark contrast to live poker, the online game deals out the hands at 2 or 3 times the speed as live play. Also, once players are comfortable with the game-play they can comfortably sit in up to 12 or even 24 games at a time! This advantage of being able to play so many hands of poker, is the commonly quoted reason why so many new players are becoming masters of the game so quickly. Speaking in terms of card-sense and strategy, what took the old-timers decades to figure out is being learned by the new wave of serious online players in a year or two. If you're a rookie thinking of trying your hand at online poker, or if you are simply interested in reading a few tips on how to comfortably manage multi-tabling, read on:
1- Screen Real Estate If you want to play more than a small number of games at once you may run into the problem of overlapping tables. It's important to be able to stay visually connected to each and every game at all times (although some experts may disagree with this because they have developed their own non-standard style of play), even if you are playing 12 tables. These days there are large monitors available for reasonable prices, so I suggest using one (or two, or three) that allow you the best freedom to position the tables however you want without overlapping them.
2- Distractions Cost Big Bucks When you are only playing one table you are constantly aware of where the big blind is, and when you have to go to the bathroom or get up to answer the door, it just isn't a big deal. The worst case scenario is that you fold 1 or 2 hands without looking at them because you had to rush out of your chair for a moment. But imagine if you are playing 12 tables. You can never really anticipate the blind because it is coming around at different times at every table. And If you have to get up from your chair, even for just a minute or two, well, you may have to auto-fold, or be dealt out of 20 or 50 hands! A predicament that would be very unprofitable if it was to be repeated at any frequency. The way to get around this issue is to plan in advance for any possible distractions. Bring some water into the office with you, and maybe even a snack. Before you decide to sit down to multi-table, you should feel calm and ready to rock and roll. Plus, you should be fully confident that you have at least an hour or two to play without any distractions of any kind.
3- The Threshold Of Competence When you choose to multi-table you are typically playing a low stake, one in which you are confident in your abilities to achieve your goals. You may be a recreational player who is happy to more or less break even in the long run, or you may be a professional who expects to earn a certain amount of bets per hour. It seems that when a player plays a small number of tables online, they have no problem maintaining their level of competent play, but, at some point, maybe when they add in the third or fifth table, or the thirteenth, the train starts to derail. Nobody can play competent poker in a million games at the same time. You have to figure out what is comfortable for you and get used to it for a while before trying anything new. Our brains are capable of adjusting to more and more demanding multitasking, but these adjustments take time; they are a skill that has to be cultivated. So don't try to rev your engine past the threshold of competence or you'll derail the whole train and the rubble from the wreck will be all that's left of your poker bankroll.