How do you benefit from multiple cards?

Well,the title doesn't really explain what I want to ask.Let's say you have 500$.Is it wiser to get a single powerful card or two cards of 250$ each? Until now,I always used to get a single powerful card,for what I know is the tecnologies supported in the newer cards are more important.
However,it looks like many people do use multiple cards,so I thought there must be some benefit from it.Why would one get another GT250(let's say) instead of (collecting more money in case) getting a GTX 480?(I haven't checked the prices but it's the logic,not the maths I'n asking here.)

Thanks =)
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More about benefit multiple cards
  1. It really depends.For example,you can get 2 GTX 460s which are cheaper than 1 GTX 580 and will give you the same performance;on the other hand, 2 5870s will give you a little more performance than 1 5970 and are more expensive than it.
    So it really depends on the specs of the cards.
  2. Also depends on the game, some games work with SLI/Crossfire, some don't (like WoW)
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