New Evidence that Multitabling is not Mindless

Elkymultitabling_4By now I would hope that most serious players realise that multitabling is not the mindless form of poker that early detractors of the online game suggested it was.

Rather than following a ‘standard’ ABC cheat sheet formula, successful online grinders have mastered so much poker knowledge to the level of instinct that they are able to call on it instantly without having to think about it.

In fact Jared has been one of the biggest advocates of the complexity of mass poker multitabling, having coached many players to the level of Supernova Elite on PokerStars.

We have already written plenty on the importance of training skills to the level of habit, but this week I discovered some research which gave even more insight into how successful online grinders are able to multitable profitably.

Higher level thinking between tables

imagesWhen you master core poker skills to the level of Unconscious Competence, ie where you don’t have to even think about it to do it, multitabling becomes easy. You see pocket sixes in the cut off when your next table pops up and you instantly know whether to bet, call or fold based on the other information available.

That makes sense when you look at standard decisions in a vacuum, but what about a hand that is being played down the streets? How easy is it to remember prior action when you have had 12 other tables pop up since you last made your move?

Some research from the Carnegie Mellon University from earlier this year suggests that, when multitasking, our brains continue to mull impending decisions in the background while our conscious brain handles other information in front of us.

Using neuroimaging tools, David Cresswell, assistant professor of psychology, showed we have a parallel thought process in our brains. His team watched the brains of adults while they were gathering the information to make a decision, before distracting them with another task and then returning to the original decision.

They found that even while distracted, the participants’ visual and prefrontal cortices remained active from the original task. Even though their minds were consciously on something else, they were still working unconsciously on the earlier task.

Far from just mindless button clicking

randy_lew_nanonoko_set_up-thumb-450x300-187162“This research begins to chip away at the mystery of our unconscious brains and decision-making,” said Creswell. “It shows that brain regions important for decision-making remain active even while our brains may be simultaneously engaged in unrelated tasks. What’s most intriguing about this finding is that participants did not have any awareness that their brains were still working on the decision problem while they were engaged in an unrelated task.”

In the Mental Game of Poker 2 one of the most important studies we cite is the Iowa Gambling Task, which also demonstrated that we process information unconsciously in the background below the level of our awareness.

What this new study also seems to suggest is that not only can we automate very complex decisions at the poker table, but we can still be processing key information about one hand while engaged in another. So when you check on table one you might still be putting your opponents on a range, assessing their prior action, and deciding what you would do if they made a continuation bet, even though you are attending to the 3-bet on table two and the button raise on table three.

Like I said at the start of this post, I don’t think any serious players were still under any illusion that mass poker multitabling was mindless. I think we all knew that elite multitablers like nanonoko are making some incredibly high level plays across a multitude of tables.

But this new evidence appears to push the envelope even further and really champion the idea that not only can we automate complex poker decisions, we actually are capable of thinking at a high level about multiple hands at once.

About Barry Carter


  1. Interesting article.

    At the begining we all play just one table an I’ve always asked myself how could they multitabling with 4+ tables. Today I play 6-8 tables myself and is easy
    as hell. All we need is brain training day by day.


  1. […] who suggest that mass-multitablers are playing a ‘mindless’ form of poker, don’t really understand the skill behind it. […]

  2. http://pimpblogs.Com/

    Proof that poker multitabling is not mindless…

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