The Theory of Poker
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The Theory of Poker

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  993 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky discusses theories
and concepts applicable to nearly every variation of the game,
including five-card draw (high), seven-card stud, hold 'em, lowball
draw, and razz (seven-card lowball stud). This book introduces you to
the Fundamental Theorem of Poker, its implications, and how it should
affect your play. Other chapters discuss the value o...more
Kindle Edition, 316 pages
Published (first published 1983)
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4.5 to 5.0 stars. In my opinion, the single best book ever written on practical poker theory and strategy. Clear, consise and very translatable from the page to the poker table. Highly Recommended (at least for poker players).
No offense to Doyle Brunson and his Super System, but Sklansky's Theory of Poker is The Poker Player's Bible. This is truly the fundamentals.

You'll learn all kinds of stuff if you've never really studied or thought deeply about the game. If you've only ever played hold'em tournaments with your friends, you'll learn even more. If you've only ever watched World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker events on television, you'll be astounded by how much the commentators couldn't possibly attempt to d...more
Barrie Penman
Looks like a book for beginners as it covers many different games Jazz, Stud Omaha not to mention Texas Holdem etc. Sorry, it is better to learn one game well first.
Even if you are past the fundemental stages, the book will only confuse.
He jumps games from page to page making it difficult to find a fit one fit all strategy.
By the time you consider yourself a good player and knowledgeable in several games you will find some parts of the book too basic and require something more specialised like p...more
There is a reason every other poker book eventually says, read The Theory of Poker. If you are just learning the game and are going to read one book on poker, this isn't the one. It's too complicated for beginners, who would only benefit by reading the book over and over again. They would be better served picking up one of the For Dummies books or The Illustrated Book of Texas Hold'em.

That said, if you ever want to progress past the beginner stage, you must read this book. He has all of require...more
Nasif Mcpherson
Theory of Poker was written by poker player, gambling theorist, and author David Sklansky. Unlike other books on poker that more of the psychological aspect of the game, Theory of Poker discusses the mathematics and game theory of it. It is strongly emphasized how poker is a game of mistakes and that as long as you can induce mistakes from your opponents while avoiding them yourself, you will be a consistent winner in the long run. This is one theme of book any serious poker player should take...more
You are not a poker player until you understand what Sklansky has to say. The pithy writing representing the concepts in this one book will not be mastered by the vast majority of players, who will waste far too much time trying to digest other books. Get what Sklansky has to say here, and you'll already be among a select few. Don't get it? Find another game.
Kenny Tang
If you don't love poker, boring as hell... If you love poker, it's still boring as hell but you need to read this. Reads like textbook and lays out decision trees and mathematical theorems. Can't really imagine a serious player not knowing this info expecting to win. Bear thru it, survive it, drink a lot of coffee, but read it if you play.
There is much here that applies outside of the green felt, which makes it probably a worthwhile read for investors and others who deal with money in a way that requires evaluation. As for poker, it's indispensable.
This is an excellent introduction into the mechanics of good poker play.
The explanations are clear and detailed, and the writing is actually pretty engaging for a two hundred book that is basically a lecture about odds ratios.

There were a few minor things that bothered me about this book. In order to have the aforementioned discussion about odds ratios you have to know what the probability of various things happening are. For certain poker events, you can calculate these things readily.* For o...more
Do you remember your college Statistics and Probabilities? Fondly? I mean, stochastic distribution, Poisson law, that sort of things?
Then you're gonna love this Continuing Ed book, learning all about Reverse Implied Odds, Speculative Psychology, Pattern Analysis, etc - together with a refresher course on Game and Decision Theory, and of course money management. If you play, minimize your maximum loss and get the book, pronto.
Poker is not the game of tells, bluff, hunches and luck Hollywood have...more
Justin Yeary
A must-read book for anyone looking to get serious about poker and take their game to the next level. Sklansky's famous Fundamental Theorem of Poker is laid out in this book and explained in great detail. I like his focus on general concepts and strategy, rather than specific hand strategies and specific techniques. If you're looking for a book that gives you explicit instructions on how to play every possible hand, this isn't the book for you. Rather, the book goes over all sorts of general con...more
Jan 29, 2008 James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Only serious players
For any of you who play by the numbers, Sklansky is for you. Many of his books focus on a single games, usually limit play and are probably the best resource for studying the game. In some cases, like "High Low split poker for Advanced Players" they will be the only resource for a particular game. Sklansky takes a very mathmatical approach to the games. He's like the ultimate grinder.

The theory of Poker is very simple: correct play is when you make the same moves you would if you knew what your...more
Dec 08, 2012 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Intermediate poker players
Recommended to Brian by: Dan Harrington
There isn't a whole lot to say about this book that hasn't already been said, but the brilliance that lies within the pages must be emphasized. As far as poker goes, if you plan on spending a lot of money and/or making a living playing poker (or perhaps just gambling in general), this book is a must-have. It's dry and academic, with both facts and tips - the most useful ones being on odds/probability, bluffing (not what it seems), slow-playing and the high importance of reading players.

This is n...more
Ditto what just about all the other reviewers have said. This is a great book. Once you have the basics down you must read this book. I have only been playing NLHE for about 9 months. I read Harrington #1 (also highly recommended) first then dove into Sklansky. For me Sklansky has filled in some areas that Harrington #1 didn't go into deep enough and others that it didn't even touch on. Maybe Dan does that in #2 and #3. They are on my to-read list as well. Meanwhile The Theory of Poker is making...more
I know its been said many times before... but this book is THE BIBLE of poker. If you want to learn about how to think logically and understand the fundamental principles of the game this book is for you. This may not be a book for those who are just starting to learn the game. If that is the case I would highly advise reading Getting Started in Hold Em by Ed Miller
There's some really advanced play in this book, and a lot of it was interesting to think about, but most of it went over my head. Part of this is because many of the examples use draw or stud, which I enjoy playing but don't have much of a knowledge base for. Still, there are some great tips in here, I can't imagine how revolutionary it was back when it first came out.
Thomas Crubaugh
This book is a definitive guide for how to think about poker while at the table. Invaluable for the already good player but much of it over my head as a novice player. I was always looking at a table of odds for given hands to better follow the situation being described but somehow never finding quite what I needed to see the relative values of multiple hands
Eric Lin
Good introduction to poker in general, emphasizing on characteristics that are shared across all variants of poker. I didn't care too much about the chapters that dealt with specific variants (especially ones I don't play), but the majority of the book is great at describing things you can apply, no matter which version of Poker you're playing.
Dec 27, 2008 William rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poker players who want to improve their game
Recommended to William by:
Loved this book - Sklansky does an amazing job of clearly explaining the things you'll need to get good at to be a good poker player - pot odds, implied odds, reverse-implied odds, figuring out when to bluff. When I first bought the book I read it, and I immediately read it again. It's been a while, I should probably re-visit.

Really good. Anyone interested in playing poker should read this closely. My one problem with it is that examples come from all poker games, but I’m not experienced in many of them. Even if it’s possible to look up the rules and follow the examples I still felt myself tuning out during the examples involving unfamiliar games.
Andy Valen
Do not read this as your first book on poker. You will not know anything and it will just be extremely frustrating. That being said, this is an excellent book for people already familiar with the game and are looking for some practical elements that they can incorporate that are based on theory.
Raphael Clayette
Very nice. Odds, check-raise, free cards (or not) position, game theory and bluff etc. A classic . As one said, the game theory bluff makes it different from other poker books. I am still a bit deceived as i was waiting for more from this so called Bible.
An accountant-turned-poker-pro tells you how to play poker . . . sort of. More theory than practical advice, but if you like numbers, or like poker and can tolerate numbers, it's a neat analysis of how (and why) the game works.
j b
I highly recommend this book for anyone who really wants to learn about poker. I consider it my "poker" bible. It goes over the basics of poker, not the specific games, and the examples and concepts used are really good.
A good starter on how to think about Poker. Not sure how much Sklansky I want to read, but he does a thorough job of walking you through different poker scenarios. Did dude even win a WSOP event?
Carrie Ahaus
Jul 22, 2007 Carrie Ahaus rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to really understand the craft of poker.
I love this book. I read it over and over again to stay focused on my game. If you can understand the theory in this book, loosing money will only be left to those damn miracle hands.
The consummate poker book that everyone who consider him or herself a poker player should have read. My only gripe is that it's all hard-core theory, and very little psychology.
Brian Ridge
This is an excellent book for anyone who takes poker seriously. It has really opened my eyes to a lot of aspects of poker that I never really paid that much attention to.
Many good thoughts were in this book. I am beginning to apply them to my play already. This is a book that needs to be studied not read.
Gerard Byrne
One the best books about poker out there. This book shows why poker is a game of skill rather than luck. And made me love the game.
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Sklansky was born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he graduated from Teaneck High School in 1966.[2] He attended the University of Pennsylvania, but left before graduation. He returned to Teaneck and passed multiple Society of Actuaries exams by the time he was 20, and worked for an actuarial firm.[3]

Sklansky is generally considered[by whom?] a top authority on gambling. He has written man...more
More about David Sklansky...
Hold'Em Poker for Advanced Players (Advance Player) No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice Tournament Poker for Advanced Players Hold'em Poker Seven-Card Stud for Advanced Players

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