07/05/2017 7:18AM

Multi-tabling challenges: To spread or not to spread?


Tournament players have more options than ever before, with abundant choices for both live and online play. That’s one of the main reasons why multi-tabling – a term borrowed from the poker world meaning playing in more than one game at once – has become so popular.

You can be at a live event at Santa Anita and see players with their laptops playing in qualifiers for the World Championship of Handicapping on DRF Tournaments, or you’ll see the same players’ names on multiple DRFT leaderboards at the same time.

This will be an important weekend for multi-tabling with three important qualifiers happening at the same time on DRFT. There’s a Wynn Challenge qualifier, a Del Mar Handicapping Challenge qualifier, and a WCH Grade 1 qualifier all happening at the same time. So what’s the best way to approach multi-tabling?

The first question to ask is: What format are we talking about? Multi-tabling takes on a very different look in live contests, where picks can be changed until the post time of each race, than in all-in contests, where all picks are locked at the off of the first contest race. Plenty of players will play in a live event and limit their online play to all-ins, but that’s not always possible. Paul Shurman, winner of Monmouth’s Pick Your Prize, nearly missed making his winning play because he was distracted by an online contest. Be aware, if you’re going to multi-table live events, you need to be super-organized and focused.

In live events, you have the option to adjust your selections based on how things are shaking out. Your own wagering personality will come into play here. Some players, doing well in two different tournaments, will opt to change things up in the latter portion of the contests, playing different horses, hoping to “get something,” i.e. one prize or the other, for their trouble. Many people choose to multi-table because they’ve done the work anyway, so why not increase the chance for success?

Other players will be inclined to double down, keeping their tickets the same, in an effort to “get it all.” This leads to another one of the key appeals of multi-tabling: If you’re going to have a great day, why place any limits on how great it can be?

Different contest field sizes and different ratios of prizes to players can drastically change the amount you’ll need to meet your goal. In a contest like Saturday’s all-in Wynn qualifier, where one in 27 will win a seat, it’s very likely that the score one needs to advance will be higher than in the live Grade 1 qualifier for the WCH, where one in 10 will go through. This will also have an effect on who you should play. In theory, the more player-friendly ratios open up the possibility of playing horses at the lower end of the prize spectrum. Larger fields will also lead to more players having  horses that are difficult to handicap, thus driving scores higher.

The ratio of prizes to entries really comes into play if you’re looking at two all-in contests, where you might take the lower priced horse you like in a contest with a one in seven ratio (like the WCH round one events) and go for the longer-priced runner you’re considering in a one in 27 event like the Wynn qualifier.

Of course, your opinion should always be your best guide as far as which horse to play where, just as when playing multiple entries in the same contest, or in your multi-race play. When your opinion is strongest, play the same horse across all entries. Where you don’t have a strong opinion, feel free to spread around. Use the leverage afforded by the ability to have an extra selection to your advantage. Maybe your only opinion in a certain race is that the favorites are vulnerable. Stay away from them and play two different longshots across your two contests.

Multi-tabling is a weapon that the best mythical-money players have in their arsenal. Days like Saturday demonstrate why: Good racing is expected and there are many exciting prizes to be won. As the sport continues to move in the direction of “big days,” all online players should get serious about multi-tabling.

To see the full slate of contests on offer at DRF Tournaments, go to tournaments.drf.com.