Multi-tabling has drastically changed the way the game of poker is played, allowing players to grind an unprecedented volume of hands and make a living at the lower stakes, while offsetting, to a degree, the swings and variance of the game. Mobile technology, meanwhile, has been the biggest driver of growth in the gambling industry over the last few years, and the speed of adoption of this technology has been unparalleled. For example, it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, but just 36 days for Angry Birds to reach the same level of penetration. We'll let that sink in for a moment.
There are now 1.5 billion people around the world using smartphones and 34 percent of all the time we spend on the Internet is now through a mobile device, which means all online poker sites now offer some form of multi-platform gaming. But how do these two "game-changers" work together? Is mobile multi-tabling a viable option? We decided to take a look at some of the best software options out there to find out.
Stars of the Small Screen
First up, it pretty much goes without saying that multi-tabling on your mobile device is no replacement for your desktop setup. The reason for this is obvious: the screens are tiny, and that means most mobile platforms only permit you to play four or five tables at once. You can't stack or tile your tables because you would barely be able to see your cards, let alone control the betting buttons with those fat sausage fingers of yours. Instead, tables will pop up and fill the whole screen when it's your turn to act, and you can flick from table to table via a series of on-screen switches.
Secondly, heads-up display (HUD) technology is not compatible with mobile platforms, so those of you who can't live without knowing your opponents' fold-to-donk-bet percentages will simply have to donk in the dark. Mobile multi-tabling, therefore, is best reserved for those hanging around at airports, or for Congressmen killing time during dull legislative hearings — a spot of fun rather than a serious grind.
But now that mobile Internet connectivity is so good, as 4G technology is being rolled out across the world, frustrating laggy connection problems are becoming a thing of the past, although connecting to wireless wherever possible is always recommended. And because mobile players generally play with the same pool of players as those using their computers, you don't have to worry too much about other people's iffy connections either.
For multi-tabling to work on mobile, the simplicity and functionality of the platform are hugely important factors. You don't want to become bogged down scrolling through the lobby to find a game, and once playing you need to be able to make your bets easily and effectively. We found that fast-paced poker games such as Zoom Poker on PokerStars are an asset for the small-screen multi-tabler; as the fast-fold function allows you to assess the table quickly and move on.
Many of the biggest operators in the market, such as 888poker, partypoker, and Full Tilt, do not offer multi-tabling options on their mobile clients at all, perhaps because of some of the challenges presented by the small screen, but we think they're missing a trick. Here are three who have dared to do so, and succeeded.
Most of us are familiar with the software of the world's biggest online poker site and the mobile version of the site does a good job of stripping the desktop version down to its easier-to-use essentials, while retaining many of the features of the original.
Most of the usual poker variations are on offer, with the exception of five-card draw, 2-7 triple draw, 2-7 single draw, 8-game mix, triple stud, and badugi, and are available in cash-game, sit-and-go, multi-table tournament (MTT), and even spin-and-go formats. Of course, the all-important Zoom Poker is a great way to multi-table on the small screen.
Some features that aren’t present on the mobile offering, meanwhile, include the ability to request tournament history, statistics, and play-money transfers, and options such as preferred seat, VIP status display options, bet-slider options, BOOM! hand sharing, and always decline rematch requests.
Currently you can play up to four tables on iPhone, iPod touch, and all Android devices and five on the iPad. Lobby navigation has been streamlined very effectively for mobile, with the lobby lists of the desktop version transformed into rotating click-through boxes that can drop you easily into your seat. Once there, you simply need to click on the plus sign at the top of the screen to open a new table, and you can flick between tables with ease.
Verdict: The top functionality of PokerStars' software in miniature multi-table form. And because this is PokerStars, player liquidity is huge, which means there are games of all descriptions running 27/7.
Europe-bet.com uses Connective Games (CG) software, which is also the software provider for Pokerdelasamericas, Pokerdom.com, Pokermira.com, and others, and so this review applies just as well to all these sites. These brands may not be household names to English-speaking players but they are some of the fastest growing sites in their own regional markets, and that means liquidity is very good. Europe-bet, for example, which is based in Georgia, is similar in player liquidity size to a site like Unibet, and Pokerdelasamericas is the fastest growing online poker site in Latin America.
Along with decent liquidity, these developing markets also offer some pretty wild players, and you’ll definitely find the games a lot softer than you would at PokerStars. But beyond the games themselves, it's clear that the software has been able to grow so strong in these markets because it’s better than its competitors — it has a vibrant, modern functionality mixed with a simplicity of use that makes it perfect for mobile. In fact, we think CG has one of the best solutions out there for mobile, period.
All sites offer hold'em, Omaha, and Omaha hi-low across, ring games, MTTs, and sit-and-gos, with the ability to play up to five tables at once. It also has its very own fast-fold poker variant, called Boost, which has all the fast-paced fun of Rush and Zoom. There are some great little features too, which its mobile competitors don't offer, such as player note-taking. The lobby is not as easily negotiable as, say, PokerStars’, but in-game bet controls are simple and effective to use and that lends itself well to multi-tabling.
Verdict" Good liquidity, excellent functionality, and wild players make for a fun and profitable mobile multi-tabling experience.
PKR is the king of 3D gaming; plunging you into realistic, immersive poker environments, complete with the ability to riffle your chips and even taunt your opponents. Of course, the mobile version is quite as impressive but it still looks amazing and retains some of the realism — an overhead view of a table full of 3D avatars, all happily yawning and riffling to their heart's content. Although players beware, the PKR mobile client does appear to drain your device faster than other software.
Of course, once you start multi-tabling, that all goes out of the window — we revert immediately to 2D as the system could simply not support that level of detail over multiple tables. Remember, though, that because most of the other players are playing in 3D, the games are quite slow. Of course, for a multi-tabler, this could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your proficiency.
The other downside is that, while cash games, sit-and-gos, and MTTs are all available, you’ll have to limit yourself to Texas hold'em only. Likewise, fans of fast-fold poker must go elsewhere for their kicks.
Verdict: Multi-tablers will lose the stunning 3D, but if you're a hold'em kid who doesn’t mind playing slowly, this is the site for you.