Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Multi-tabling - 1 month of experience

I was looking back at my PokerTracker history last night & realized that I'm fitting in about 426 hands / night on average. That's pretty amazing, considering prior to June 13 (the day of a new dawn for me), I was maxing out at about 160-200 hands / night. 3 tabling is not only easier than single tabling, but the it's more automatic. I never realized that I can multitask like I am. Prior to June 13th, the maximum tables I ever even tried was 2 - and that was difficult. That said, I have yet to go beyond 4 tables, just due to screen sizes. I can really only get 4 tables going on my desktop PC, where my primary playing is done with my laptop. My next laptop purchase, though, will certainly include a high resolution screen, so that I can more regularly fit 4 tables.

The immediate difference with multi-tabling, though, is my hand selection. I find that my average VPIP is around 22.86 with a PFR of 11.02. My aggression factor, though, is quite high - 3.14. Since June 13th, I've played 11,955 hands. I'd imagine those numbers put me roughly in the tight aggressive (TAG) category of player. For what it's worth, from the start of my online poker playing on FullTilt to June 13th, my VPIP was 29.63, PFR 15.67 and AF 3.17 @ 21K hands. I've gotten much tighter while keeping up with the same post-flop aggression.

I believe, over time, minus the bad beats that I was experiencing last month, it is a more profitable way to play.

In order to multi-table, you really need to concentrate on position and raising in position. You have enough to worry about with 2 other hands than to be worried about limping (or even ) raising AJo UTG, for example. In a full ring table, what are you going to do if you've raised AJo PF and you get re-raised? Fold, of course. There are 3 hands that dominate you outright (AA, AK, AQ) and 6 (KK, QQ, JJ, not including AJs) total that you are a serious underdog. Moreover, you're taking a flop out of position. Why would you purposely put yourself in that position? Now, I'm not advocating AJo is an auto fold hand - particularly against a known LAG button / CO. However, based on the situation, you need to evaluate if AJo is the kind of hand you want to see a flop with, out of position, with 7-8x BB's already in the pot and you not knowing where you are in the hand when either the J hits the flop or the A hits the flop. Is it a lead out / fold to a raise? Or a check / call? What's the plan?

That said, the other consideration is the cost of future bets when you add money to the pot - particularly out of position. Let's assume you have raised the pot out of position with any holdings. Let's assume the raise is 3x BB and you get 1 or 2 callers - call it 2 callers. There is 9x BB for the calls + 1.5x BB for the blinds for a total of 10.5x BB. Depending on the strength of your hand, a "normal" bet (around 2/3 pot) is going to cost you 7xBB, blowing the pot up huge when you get AT LEAST one caller: 10.5x BB + 7x BB (from your bet) + 7x BB (from a caller) for a total of 34.5x BB. You're now playing for 1/3 of a 100BB effective stack in the pot. For marginal holdings, not knowing where you are in the hand, this is a lot of money to commit. The turn bet is going to have to be HUGE. If you check the turn to try to control the pot size, you are now opening yourself up to a bluff bet, depending on the player, because you've potentially shown weakness.

Given the above is understood, take, for a moment, the opposite stance, where you chose to limp. Perhaps the positional players had a good limp / call hand themselves and had not planned on raising (let's assume a perfect world and those 2 callers are the only callers + the big blind). Pot size is "only" 4.5xBB, and a 2/3 pot bet is a mere 3xBB, less than half the cost of your 7xBB example from above. The whole cost of the hand, should you elect to take the line of check / call down is about half the cost.

The point is, in my opinion, it is often better to limp / fold (not even limp or call / fold if you absolutely MUST play that AJo UTG) those weaker holdings and wait for a better position. You are controlling the pot sizes PF, and able to more readily get away from lesser holdings. In addition, you have the element of surprise for those instances when you do flop good. You have not given away anything about your hand PF. I think PF pot control and pot control in general is a concept lost on most of the players at the micro-level of I play. The flop is a whole other ball of wax; potentially I'll address that in later posts.

For now, PF pot size control is key: limp / fold out of position, raise in position. Fundamental poker, fundamental to multi-tabling so you don't have constant difficult decisions.

NOTE: I pick on AJo because I see all too many players raise and/or get it all in PF re-raise. People: there are better hands - FAR superior hands - than AJ (suited or off-suit). Don't delude yourself into thinking AJ is the nuts PF.

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