Does automatic pilot style play blunt your potential?
Some years ago, I only ever played a single table because I was of the impression that no player alive could play two or more tables better than what they could play one. Then my ideas changed and I realised that I could play more and more tables, but with a reduced number of bb/100 and make more money. However, when you play more tables, there has to be a limit until you reach the stage where you are simply playing on automatic pilot and not thinking about your playing decisions.
Now, let us try and put some figures onto this shall we? Let us say that your automatic pilot game is good enough to record a very good earn rate at NL50. You make 16bb/100, which is $8/100 and you see ten tables at 75 hands per table per hour. So, your hourly rate is an impressive $60/hour. However, let us say that you tried to play the same style at NL100, where the player pools are smaller and the opponents are stronger. Your earn rate may fall substantially because your opponents either have a broadly similar style to you or can adjust to your style.
You may also realise that you cannot find the same number of tables as well and so you may max out at, say, six tables and are only making 8bb/100. So, you are now making $8/100, but only seeing 450 hands per hour which is $36/hour playing the same way. Moving up to NL200 may see your tables fall again to only four effective tables and your earn rate fall to say 2bb/100 which is only $4/100 hands. You are only seeing 300 hands per hour and so your earn rate is now $12/hour.
So, you can see that automatic pilot play is hurting you as you move up and in fact these figures could be too high and your true earn rate could be lower than that. I know some players that struggle to make money at all playing at levels like NL200 with simply nothing more than an automatic pilot ABC style. However, let us say that you could beat NL50 for 20bb/100 but only over six tables. Making $10/100 and only seeing 450 hands per hour means that your earn rate is $45/hour, unlike the $60/hour like before.
However, it is your observation skills that serve you well here and at NL200 you could be making say 15bb/100 which is $30/100 hands. If you are playing only four tables, then you are seeing 300 hands per hour and making $120/hour.
This is the value of playing better poker on fewer tables. However, it does mean that you have to work on your poker game in order to become a better poker player to begin with. By far the easiest route is to play more tables with a simplified style. This makes less money per hour overall, but that is precisely why it is an easier route.