Playing several tables at once has become a common practice for many poker players. The upside of this approach is that you get in more hands in a shorter period.
From this, you would expect that more volume automatically means more money. However, multi-tabling can cost you a lot if you’re not careful.
We’ll take a close look at some of the most dangerous downsides of playing multiple tables and help you decide what’s the optimal number for you.
The Downsides of Playing Too Many Tables
If you’re a pro poker player, playing multiple tables at once is an exciting and effective way of making money faster.
But, for everyone else, multi-tabling comes with some potentially severe disadvantages. The most prominent downsides of playing too many tables include:
- More difficult to read your opponents – If you’re concentrating on following too many tables simultaneously, you won’t be able to observe the details of what your opponents are doing.
- One bad table can throw off your entire game – If you lose a big hand on one table, it will likely get stuck in your mind for a while, putting you on tilt and influencing your decisions in future hands.
- Bad decisions accumulate quicker – One lousy decision can quickly lead to another, and so on, quickly creating a snowball effect of bad choices before you can put a stop to it.
All of these factors can contribute to you losing a lot of money. In just a few short games, you can lose much more than you would in a long period if you were playing fewer tables.
How Many Tables Should You Ideally Play?
Now that we’ve established that, unfortunately, there is such a thing as too many tables, how do you know how many tables you should play at once?
Is there a recommended number, or do you just wing it and see how it goes?
There are ways to determine the sweet spot depending on your poker experience and what you’re looking to achieve.
Here are some basic pointers to help you decide how many tables you should play at once:
Playing 1 to 4 Tables
Most casual poker players never move out of this range, and there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s better to know your table cap and stay comfortable when playing than to push yourself over the limit, hurting the quality of your play in the process.
Apart from being easier to keep up, playing only up to four tables almost always comes with a higher win rate.
This is because you’ll have more time to focus on each hand, and you’ll be able to make better decisions based on your opponent’s actions and reactions.
That said, if you plan on sticking between one and four tables when playing poker, choosing the right tables is crucial.
We should also mention that, just as playing too many tables can cost you, so can playing too few of them.
The biggest negative of playing only a small number of tables is that the downswings last much longer, and if you get into a bad slump, it’ll seem like it’s lasting forever.
Apart from this, if you’re looking to get money through rakeback, it’s always better to push for more tables.
Playing from 5 to 12 Tables
If you already have some experience with online poker and are confident in your game, moving to the five to twelve table range might be a good idea to boost your success.
Playing in this range offers you the chance to taste the best of both worlds. It’s just enough tables for you not to feel rushed while allowing you to put in a decent number of poker hands in every single session.
But, be careful if you’re not used to playing more than a couple of tables at once.
When you start playing as many tables as this, the grind begins to set in. If you’re not focused all the time, you can quickly lose a lot of money in a short period.
We want to note that you shouldn’t start playing ten or twelve tables right away. Move to five tables first and slowly build your way up to a number you’re comfortable with.
Playing 13+ Poker Tables
Nowadays, poker sites such as PokerStars allow you to play as many tables simultaneously as you physically can.
If you’re looking for a place where you can play a big number of tables simultaneously, check these sites and see if one of them fits your needs.
There are players capable of playing up to 30 or even more tables simultaneously. While these numbers seem like extraordinary achievements, the overall win-rate tends to suffer in most cases when focusing on sheer numbers alone.
If you’re a mass-tabler, the more tables you play, the bigger the chances are that the overall quality of play will worsen.
You'll still be able to physically follow through with your game, but mentally, your success will suffer significantly.
And, seeing that poker is a game that requires great focus, strategy, and mental strength, substituting quality for quantity isn’t always the right choice.
A Quick Takeaway
In the end, the number of poker tables you’ll play entirely depends on you alone. Some players just can’t keep up with more than a couple of tables at once. Others feel bored if they’re not playing 10+.
The key to being successful is to find a sweet spot based on your experience and preferences.
When trying to figure out how many tables you can play, always add one at a time. Find the right balance so that you never feel disinterested or exhausted.
If you’re new to online poker, check out these beginners' poker tips as well, as they should help you navigate your way around more tables while making fewer mistakes.