About the book: The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky


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David Sklansky, better known as “the mathematician” in poker circles, is an authority in the gambling world credited with numerous gaming publications. The Theory of Poker is an excellent book that guarantees its reader a well-chalked-out operative in nearly every poker variation. The book is less about providing a standard to-do method for every situation; rather, it offers an approach to every situation presented on the poker table. The premise is rather simple – the author seeks to teach the reader how to fish and not serve the fish upfront.

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What Is The Book "The Theory of Poker" All About?

The author puts forth concepts, approaches, and strategies in five poker variants – Texas Hold'em, draw lowball, seven-card stud, seven-card draw, and razz or seven-card lowball. Just like the opening lines of chapter one, which describe poker as a game of utter simplicity, but beneath the surface, a profound, rich game full of subtlety, The Theory of Poker to is reflective of this simplicity and profoundness.

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The Excellent Insights Reflected In The Book

One such wonderful insight that he offers about the workings of an expert poker player is, “Beginning poker players rely on big hands and lucky draws. Expert poker players use their skills to minimize their losses on their bad hands and maximize their profits on their big hands.” Also Explore Daniel Negreanu's poker book for expert insights and strategies. This comprehensive guide offers valuable lessons from a poker legend, providing both seasoned players and beginners with essential tips for mastering the game. Elevate your skills and deepen your understanding of poker with Negreanu's expert advice.

The Theories And Concepts Explained In The Book

Each proceedings chapter touches upon all the basic concepts of poker. The author breezes through poker logic, mathematical expectation, pot odds, and bet sizes. The book provides some extremely useful insights, such as focusing on the big picture rather than individual pots, not tonot registering a win for the sake of it or fighting a bad game to get even, and making decisions when the information asymmetry is overwhelming.

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Poker Theorems Explained Thoroughly and Methodologically

The author then goes on to introduce the fundamental theorem of poker succinctly – “Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponent's cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.” He then illustrates this central concept with umpteen examples that will drive home the concept. He offers a simple test to verify the correct application in the form of a single question.

Strategies And Mathematics To Win Every Poker Game

The Theory of Poker then observes that all poker begins as a struggle for the ante and outlines the importance of the ante in great detail. The following chapters outline the value of positions in each poker variant and how they must be leveraged, the method of calculating effective odds, and how to accurately estimate the implied odds. The author dedicates an entire chapter to the value of deception – the stage in the game it should be attempted. These situations warrant the wanton use of these strategies and the circumstances when they should be avoided. The influencing factors, such as the size of the pot and bet size, the strength of opponents, etc., are examined and deconstructed in detail for the reader.

The merits and demerits of each position and how to adjust one’s play according to their position is something that the author discusses in great depth. He then summarizes the rules one must keep at the back of their mind while betting or raising to drive opponents out, check-raising and slow-playing. The author outlines the myth and reality of bluffing and provides certain pointers for effectively employing Semi-Bluffs and Pure Bluffs. Interestingly, the following chapter gives a detailed method of defending or deflecting a semi-bluff when one is at the receiving end of it.

Breaking Down The Stereotypes In Poker

One of the most important things that The Theory of Poker has to offer is that it frees the reader of many myths and popular misconceptions. The author destroys one such myth: “You play tight in a loose game and lose in a tight game.” He goes one step further and provides an alternate approach to playing such games based on the ante size, the opponent’s moves, the player’s hand, and their position on the table.


The Theory of Poker, while offering insight into the strategies that one must employ, also warns the readers of what they must not do. The author cautions all poker players to proceed cautiously and not make mistakes that would cost them the entire pot. The Theory of Poker is directed at poker players who know the basics of the game (some may even be good players) and wish to delve deeper into the game's inner workings. A careful read of the book would reveal some excellent tips to the reader and generate rich rewards if applied properly.

The reader will not be able to play the flops, bets, and raises the same way after reading this book. The Theory of Poker is a gold mine of experience packaged and presented beautifully by one of the biggest figures that poker has ever seen, David Sklansky. A definite must-read for all the poker players out there! Also get familiar and immerse yourself in the poker wisdom of a true legend with Doyle Brunson's 'Super System' book. This iconic guide, penned by one of the game's pioneers, offers unparalleled insights into poker strategy, covering everything from fundamental principles to advanced tactics. Explore the pages of 'Super System' to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of poker and elevate your skills to a new level.

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