The Ups and Downs of Multi-task, Multi-table Gaming...


The advent of online poker has not only made it possible for gamers to play from their home or office, but to combine this activity with any number of other activities. We can play poker and talk on the phone. We can play poker and watch TV. We can play poker and scan a spreadsheet, document, or email. In fact with many online casino or poker room software packages we can sit at not only one, but two, three, or even four tables simultaneously.


I would be the last person to question the occasional virtues of multi-tasking (especially when it comes to work and fun), and far be it from me to dictate how much of anything (or things) any one person can handle at once. However, the question remains and must be asked, to what extent is multi-tasking and/or multi-table gaming worth it? Is there a point of diminishing returns, a threshold above which more becomes less and less becomes more? While this is less of an issue at a free or penny limit table, it should be of key concern to any online poker player playing attempting to ‘climb the ranks’.  


Success in poker requires keen observation, a quick mind for odds, and the wisdom to know when to call, fold, raise, or simply leave the table. While luck, as in all forms of gambling, is certainly a factor, the old trope of ‘how one plays their cards’ carries far more weight than some players are ready to admit. If you are playing for money or to acquire skill it is time to step back and determine exactly how much attention you are giving your game. A $100 session deserves $100 worth of your attention, and not a penny less.


It is difficult to resist the temptation of the poker room software’s min window, especially when that good friend pops up in the IM, or when you want to get a head start on that assignment, or even when you want to catch up on correspondence. Do not do it! Here is a handy checklist for all you multi-taskers. If you cannot answer yes to any of these statements, then it is time to compartmentalize and make poker time a time for poker and poker alone.


  1. I can accurately identify, track, and attempt to exploit (or avoid being exploited by) the playing styles of every player sitting at the table, and new players as they join the game.

  2. I can quickly and accurately calculate the pot odds of every hand.

  3. I can keep track of betting patterns over the course of many hands.

  4. I can play without unnaturally (and obnoxiously) slowing the hand or otherwise revealing to others I am multi-tasking the game.

  5. When all is said and done, I am winning more than I am losing.


Be strict. Be honest. If necessary print these statements out and hang them on the wall of your office, study, or wherever it is you play. Studies in workplace efficiency tend to demonstrate that even basic forms of multi-tasking profoundly diminish productivity. Certainly the same must hold for poker. If you are playing poker for money, it is worth your while (and your pocket-book) to consider the online poker room a sort of workplace. Once ingrained, multi-tasking is a hard habit to beat. Be brutal now. The next time you are in the poker room and that good friend pops up on the IM, get back to them or the game at a later time. Better yet, get your friend to join you at the table!




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