Saturday, 2 January 2010

PokerStars Multi-Tabling guide

I wrote this guide to multi-tabling on PokerStars for the friendly social network, so it is aimed at people who are new to poker but it will also be useful for experienced players who are new to PokerStars.

*** Why multi-table? ***

One-tabling is boring as hell. Multi-tabling is more fun and will let you can play more hands or more tournaments per hour, increasing your hourly win rate and making you more VPPs and FPPs = rakeback.

Playing a large number of tables at lower stakes can make you as much money as playing a few tables at higher stakes, but with less variance / risk involved.

As you add more tables you should expect your winrate on each table to drop as you have less time to get reads on players and make good decisions.
The idea is that you should add more tables as long as your $ per hour is increasing, that is the extra money you make from the extra tables more than covers the decrease in your expected win rate.

Of course all this only applies if you're a winning player. If you're a losing player then multitabling will only help you lose your money faster :p


*** how many tables? ***

It depends, everyone is different. It will depend a lot on your skill and familiarity with the game you're playing and your own ability to multi-task.

While you are learning a form of poker it's best to play no more than 4-tables so that you can think about each and every decision and improve your game.

If you move up in stakes it is worth playing less tables than usual so that you can adjust to the tougher games.


*** What types of poker are suited to multi-tabling? ***

Full-ring cash games
SNGs
Multi-table tournaments

Full-ring cash games are much easier to multi-table than shorthanded games. Winning at full-ring requires a tight preflop hand selection and as a result most postflop decisions are straight forward. Shorthanded games are much looser and require a lot more creativity - making them unsuitable to "auto-pilot".

SNGs and shallow stack MTTs are easy to multitable because the blinds increase in size very quickly and it is soon a pre-flop only game. These simple pre-flop decisions make for easy multi-tabling.

Cash games are limited to 24 tables but SNGs/MTTs are unlimited, and there have been people that play over 50! of them at a time.


*** Types of multi-tabling ***

Tiled


Tiling your tables means tables sit beside each other on your screen like tiles, and they don't overlap.
With tiling all your tables are in full sight and you are able to observe hands that you're not involved in, take notes and use forward actions such as "check/fold" before the action gets to you on that table.
The disadvantage of tiling is that it becomes unpractical when you go over about 18 tables as you will constantly be moving your eyes and head all over the place looking for tables that have action.

With most conventional monitors you will only be able to tile 6 tables comfortably, and sometimes only 4. To tile more tables you either need a big (read high-resolution) monitor, or multiple monitors.

The 30" monitors with a 2560x1600 resolution can tile 20 pokerstars tables although the tables will be too small to work with comfortably. With the 30" I prefer to have the tables sized at a 640x470 resolution in a 4x3 grid for 12 tables, with room at the bottom for another 4 tables with some vertical overlap.

You can also get a second monitor, a 20" with a 1600x1200 resolution, set up in portrait mode to set next to the 30" and extend your desktop for more tables.

Another option is having 4 monitors in a grid, each capable of 4-6 comfortably tiled tables. You will need a quad-monitor desk stand and 2 gfx cards each with 2 ports (or USB capable monitors with virtual gfx cards).

Pokerstars will tile your tables on your primary monitor if you select View->Tile Tables or press CTRL+9.
You will have to lay out and resize the tables yourself on the other monitors then make sure View->Remember Table Positioning is ticked and select View->Save Custom Layout.

Using some table planning script will help you out a lot when tiling (see software section bellow).


Cascaded / Overlap


If your screen real estate is in short supply you may want to cascade your tables.
You can cascade all the tables that you have open by using View->Cascade Tables or pretty CTRL+0.
Make sure than you have "table popup" enabled, so that a table waiting for your action will pop up to the foreground, otherwise it will stay hidden behind other tables and you will time out. View->Advanced Multi-Tabling Options->Popup table whenever user action is required.

When limited by screen space overlapping will make better use of the space available. It basically just involve setting up tables of a reasonable size all over your monitor, overlapping each other. Again make sure that "table popup" is enabled.
When overlapping you will still sometimes be able to use forward actions, observe hands and take notes, just not as easily as if you were tiling.


Stacking

Stacking is similar to cascading except it involves having all your tables positioned directly on top of each other. It is favoured by people playing more than 20 tables. With a stack of tables you can concentrate only on the hand in front of you and you don't have to move your eyes/head around the screen.
You will be able to play many tables at once but you will not be able to take notes, observe hands, or use forward actions. You will also miss out on the results of all-in hands. There is software available that lets you snap important tables in and out of your stack with a keystroke.
Again make sure that "table popup" is enabled if you want to stack, else you will lose tables and time out.


Stacking-Tiled

Stacking-Tiled is a combination of stacking and tiled. It involved having one massive stack of tables but when a table needs action, rather than popup to the front of the stack it pops up to another area of the screen, then goes back into the stack after the hand is complete. This is only possible using a script/software.


** note about the table popup to foreground feature in stars **
If you have any of your tables overlapping or stacked then make sure not to have any tables behind the browser or any other software that you will be clicking on.
How the table popup on stars works is like this:
You have all the tables on top of each other, or overlapping, you do nothing until one table pops up for action.
Meanwhile other tables may subsequently need action before you've clicked anything on the first table that popped up, but stars wont pop them to the front until you click an action button on the table it popped up first. So it's impossible to click the wrong table as a result of popup as long as you don't use any of the forward action (check/fold checkbox) on a table in the foreground.


*** Software to make multitabling easier ***

To make multitabling easier I have listed some software options that will help you a lot. Some of the software that is available will do several of these options. The commercial software is much easier to setup, use and is better supported but there are some great free software out there I've tried to list one for each option.

Tracking Software + HUD


When multi-tabling you will not always, and sometimes not at all, be able to observe any hands that you are not involved in. Rather than playing blind against opponents that you have no reads on you should use some software to track your opponents play and display stats on a HUD (Heads Up Display). The choices are Holdem Manager and Poker Tracker 3 (and freepokerdb, an alpha version open source software).
Basic HUD stats to use while you're getting familiar with the software are VPIP (Voluntary put in pot %), PFR (Preflop Raise %), Agg (Aggression Factor) and 3-bet%.


Hotkeys

Using hotkeys will allow you to make actions much faster, so you can spend more time thinking about decisions rather than executing your decisions.
The betpot AHK (Auto HotKey) script is free and well supported. This script will allow you to set any key or mouse button to an action such as fold/call/raise/allin/xx% of pot bet.
The Tableninja software includes hotkey functionality.


Auto timebank clicker

Pokerstars will only activate your timebank if you have money invested in the pot, otherwise your hand will be folded if you don't act in time. While multi-tabling you will sometimes have a bunch of decisions all at the same time and will need to rely on your timebank.
The free AHK script StarsAssistant will auto-click your timebank, as well as highlight your most urgent table.
The Tableninja software will auto-click your timebank and also auto sit you back in if you time out.

Auto register (For SNGs)

If you are playing a lot of SNGs at once it get's annoying having to constantly register for new games to replace the ones you just won or busted in. An auto-reg software will automatically register you for new games based on your filters and parameters such as how many games or hours to keep loading for.
Tableninja includes SNG Sensei which is a very stable SNG opener.
Stars Filtered SNG Opener (SFSO) is a free AHK script with many options for auto-registering SNGs.


Table Planning software


StarsPlanner is a free AHK script that automatic resizes and positions your tables into slots on your screen that you pre-define. You can move tables around and they just snap into place.

Table of Interest is a commercial software that allows you to use the stacking-tiled type of multi-tabling.

Tableninja has hotkeys that will allow you to move, and move back a table to a set position on the screen. This is useful for people who stack their tables.


Table Highlighting

When you are tiling or cascade/overlapping it helps to use software to highlight the most urgent table. StarsAssistant and Tableninja will highlight this table with a red border.

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Holdem Manager - $80 ($55 small stakes version), 15 Day free trial, http://www.holdemmanager.net/

Poker Tracker 3 - $90 ($45 small stakes version), 60 Day free trial, http://www.pokertracker.com/

freepokerdb - free - http://sourceforge.net/projects/fpdb/ support thread: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/45/software/free-open-source-poker-tracking-software-fpdb-v-0-11-2-bug-fixes-03-jul-2009-a-273001/

Tableninja - $60 (or $35 with only 6 months of upgrades), 21 Day free trial - http://tableninja.com/
support thread: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/45/software/new-software-tableninja-hotkeys-utilities-pokerstars-358599/

BetPot* - FREE - http://www.overcards.com/wiki/moin/BetPot

Stars Filtered SNG Opener (SFSO)* - FREE - http://www.overcards.com/wiki/moin.cgi/SFSO support thread: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/45/software/ahk-script-stars-filtered-sng-opener-234749/

Stars Planner* - FREE - http://www.overcards.com/wiki/moin/StarsPlanner support thread: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/45/software/new-ahk-script-starsplanner-auto-resize-arrange-tables-398/

Stars Assistant* - FREE - http://www.overcards.com/wiki/moin/StarsAssistant support thread: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showthread.php?t=102738

Table of Interest - $40, free microstakes version, http://www.tableofinterest.com/ support thread: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/45/software/new-software-table-interest-v1-40-dynamic-table-management-solution-pokerstars-651960/


*AHK script that needs AutoHotkey software installed
AutoHotKey - FREE - http://www.autohotkey.com/

13 comments:

  1. Lovely read, there is still no software out there that does what I need, but such is life.

    Best of luck (or more importantly skill) in 2010

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  2. Gio, out of curiosity, what is it you need?

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  3. well the SNG opener in Tableninja etc is nice, but i tend to only 4-8table so its not all that crucial, things i could use are MTT registers perhaps.
    A way to track the number of VPP's i got during each cash game table, i'm a stat whore.
    A simple numpad raising hotkeys would be ideal too.
    HUD of really basic stats like aggression factor etc.

    and while i realize that something like tableninja does that kind of thing - it does more than i need and is not worth the money when i'm using less than 5% of the features, hey if i was good at computing...lol

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  4. Hey Dale, do you know if there are still plans for _Dave_ to add in extra SNG functionality for Starsplanner? I'm looking at the thread on 2+2 which I saw you posted in at the end... so maybe you've read all the posts (like 84 pages, I'm like 1/4 the way through...) - but at the beginning of the thread they're talking about it being a high priority to add the following:

    When multi-tabling SNGs and one of your more advanced ones gets busted, to have all the others move up in position so that you always have the longest-running (and presumably highest-blinds, shortest stacks...) in the same spots.

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "so maybe you've read all the posts (like 84 pages"

    yeah right, i'll get right on to that hahaha

    best thing you can do is post in the thread about it - _dave_ is more likely to work on it if he sees that it's something people still want.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hahaha, good call.

    I thought it possible you may have been using the prog for a while & following the thread... couple of pages a day, only take you 6 weeks to read it all ;)

    Yeah I'll post or PM _dave_ or something, cheers.

    How funny was that dude slagging you off in the "bommel222 fail" comments bit, as if you've only made like $5k from pokers or something, hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  7. i've been using it for over a year but not following the thread. it seems to work better on XP than win7 for some reason.

    Yeah that dude is clown shoes, you should see his comments in the "Video Update - Off to Galway, Ireland for UKIPT" blog, then check out his own blog and its even funnier.

    ReplyDelete
  8. i think placemint is just way better than starsplanner if it comes to staking tables.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Very helpful post Dale. I tried the sitngo opener but I ran into a problem. It kept opening more tournaments than I wanted. I haven't messed around with it much since I started using TableNinja.

    I really liked Table Of Interest but it's no longer available.

    What are you currently using?

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  10. stars hjapler and table ninja

    TOI is still supported if anything breaks it, for people that already bought it, just it wont be developed further.

    gonna update this guide soon

    ReplyDelete
  11. LOL I BET THE TROLL IN QUESTION IS THE WHITE WANNA BE RAPPER YOU PWNED A WILE BACK IN YOUR AWESOME VBLOG. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  12. TY for this still usefull thread.

    I have 2 questions:

    1) Is it possible to set a 45-man final table in a diffferent color?
    Using the hypersimple Setting and highlighting a FT just doesn't show enough differences between FT an non-FT-Tables.

    2) Is there any software that does what steven asked more than 2 years ago?

    When multi-tabling SNGs and one of your more advanced ones gets busted, to have all the others move up in position so that you always have the longest-running (and presumably highest-blinds, shortest stacks...) in the same spots.

    Such as stack-tiling but having fixed slots when it comes to a FT...?

    Hope this gets read and answered after such a long time since the post was written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I stopped using Stars Planner because it became buggy for me. Now I use Placemint - it is very customizable and there is a huge thread about it on twoplustwo.

      As for being able to have final tables highlighted differently, I don't know of any software that has this feature.

      I will get round to updating this whole article eventually because stuff has changed over the last 2 years. For example, hotkeys are now a native feature of the pokerstars client it is much better to use that feature than a 3rd party hotkeys solution.

      Delete