Should a Beginner Poker Player Multi-table?

One question I often hear being discussed is whether a poker beginner should play multiple players or just focus on one until he or she gets more experience.

First of all, I want to make a distinction between a moderate amount of tables (2-4) and mass multi-tabling with significantly more. I know people who play up to 16 tables in one session and I can assure you that such a bold strategy should be reserved for the professionals, although a lot of mediocre players do try to grind this many out. In general, intermediate players are doing harm to their long-term growth as a player when they play too many tables and let every decision become mechanical. Even those who do end up winning in the long run would often be able to secure a higher winrate if they cut a few tables and gave each remaining one a little more individualized attention. Honing our hand reading and note taking abilities is what really lets us climb the poker ladder, and if you mass multitable too soon in your career, you will significantly lower your ceiling.

When you’re still pretty new to playing poker, the best thing to do is play one table at a time. In fact, nearly every single person probably plays too much for his or her own good. Standard poker advice states that for every hour you play on the table, you should spend at least two reviewing your hands and reading up on strategy. This is very hard to do, however, and I think it’s safe to say that not many people actually follow this advice to the letter. But it should still demonstrate that we often play too much for our own good, and that easing up on the amount of tables is often a good way to make sure we aren’t letting things get out of hand.

As a beginner, I stayed on one table for quite a while, and I think I’ve definitely benefitted from it. For other players, however, I definitely do think that there are reasons why one might want to consider playing 2-4, even if he or she does not have a mountain of experience. For example, if you tend to play on the aggressive side and struggle with discipline, then playing one table will be much more of a strain on you. If you play three tables, on the other hand, you’ll suddenly be seeing three times the amount of hands and will likely be able to find the discipline to fold those marginal holdings.

Moral of the story? Playing one table is definitely the best for a beginner, but the right kind of player will be fine with 2-4, and possibly even better off. But don’t start getting cocky and thinking you can handle 12 tables at a time; it will do far more harm than good!

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