Again, this is going to depend upon your level of expertise. For beginner level players I would recommend playing no more than one or two tables for the first little while. As you get comfortable with this amount you should try adding one more table and see how you fare. You should add tables until you find that sweet spot where you are playing as many as you can while still making solid poker decisions.
This number is going to be different for everybody. And I don’t want to age bash anyone here. I am a relative old timer in this game myself at 32. However, age may play a factor. Younger kids often have sharper minds and heck, all those years of playing video games must count for something right?
Don’t worry about the amount of tables that you can play though. And don’t try to play X number of tables because some hero grinder of yours plays that amount. As I said you need to find out what number is right for you and stick with that. Keep in mind that this number will probably increase over time anyways as your poker decisions become more automatic.
There are many software related tools that can help you become more efficient as well. This will save you time and allow you to play more tables at once. For an in depth discussion on how to set up and configure a bunch of free AHK scripts, I would recommend that you have a look at my “Definitive Guide to Multi-tabling” video series
on DragTheBar. And then check out this thread where I provide all the download locations and some additional setup details.
But for a lot of people a product called Table Ninja might be a better idea. Table Ninja is quite a bit more user friendly and easy to setup than the AHK scripts. However it also comes with a price tag.
If you are only going to be playing a handful of tables at most, then I probably wouldn’t concern yourself with any of the above software tools. They are more intended for people who are going to be doing some heavier multi- tabling (8+ tables).
Regarding the layout of the tables on your screen, I recommend tiling them if you have a large monitor or only play a handful of tables. For me however, as a mass multi-tabler, I prefer to stack my tables. This requires less head and eye movement. Stacking also forces me to make my decision and move on because the table gets buried in the stack. Since this game is all about the long run this is a good general practice to have anyways.
A disadvantage of stacking however is the inability to keep an eye on all of your tables. But I am often so busy making decisions in other hands that I don’t have much time to watch them anyways. However with Table Ninja or AHK scripts you can create hotkeys to move a table in and out of the stack if you wish. I often do this if I see a table that has a massive fish on it for instance. I will move that table off to the side in order to give it a little bit more of my attention.