You can split any editor pane horizontally or vertically by using Cmd+KCtrl+K Up/Down/Left/Right where the direction key is the direction to split the pane. Once you have a split pane, you can switch between them with Cmd+KCtrl+K Cmd+Up/Down/Left/RightCtrl+Up/Down/Left/Right where the direction is the direction the focus should move to.
Each pane has its own "pane items", which are represented by tabs. You can move the files from pane to pane by dragging them with the mouse and dropping them in the pane you want that file to be in.
If you don't like using tabs, you don't have to. You can disable the tabs package and each pane will still support multiple pane items. You just won't have tabs to use to click between them.
To close a pane, you can close all pane items with Cmd+WCtrl+W. You can configure whether panes auto-close when empty in the Settings View with the "Remove Empty Panes" setting under Core Settings.