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The Theory of Poker

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,173 ratings  ·  80 reviews
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 of deception, bluffing, raising, t ...more
Paperback, Fourth Edition, 301 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Two Plus Two Publishing (first published 1983)
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Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
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).
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poker
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
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Mostly read last year. RJ Bell recommended this as a book that fundamentally changed the way he viewed betting. I found it to be an interesting read regarding how to play the game as well as how to view betting but it was mostly too technical to be anything but a novelty for me.
Barrie Penman
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poker
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
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poker probability crunchers, mathematicians, game theorists
This was the first poker book recommended to me by an avid nonprofessional poker player who happens to be a mathematician. David Sklansky is known on the poker circuit as "the Mathematician" and this book is considered one of the fundamental texts for serious students of the game, still recommended to new players despite its age.

Probably its most important contribution to poker theory is Sklansky's Fundamental Theorem of Poker:

Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have pl
Tim O'Hearn
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 52-books-in-2016
The book is exactly what everyone says it is. Approachable and cited enough to the point of historical significance. I grew tired of seeing it referenced in books where skilled poker players became quantitative masterminds, so I picked it up. I felt like I was missing out.

The author doesn't at any time make things complicated. That is, aside from his choice of rotating through every poker variant under the sun when giving examples. The math isn't hard, the examples are clear, and the counterintu
Forest Tong
Mar 14, 2016 rated it liked it
One of the salient facts about this book is that Sklansky discusses poker strategy in the context of many variations, such as razz, stud, and draw poker. One the one hand, this approach allows the reader to see how there are many general principles of poker that hold regardless of the particular rules. On the other hand, I think it made the book significantly less accessible for a beginner, and rapidly switching between discussions of different games was frequently confusing.

In general, although
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Definitely a foundation among poker books, although I wish it had more hold'em specific advice. Some of the situational examples seems to assume you will see % to win under each other player around the table; very theoretical but still plenty of good stuff in here.

2nd time around because I need advice and want to get back to basics. I've lost my last two tornys with pocket 10's. I've come to the conclusion that I don't know how to play pocket 10's.
Kenny Tang
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Gabriel Osborne
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poker
The most perfect book written on poker theory. This truly illustrates the fundamentals of poker.

Written over 20 years ago, every book on poker since could have been extrapolated from the concepts in this book.
Azary Tamarov
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best poker books
Steven Ramirez
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I should have read this book before trying to win money at Poker. The guy looks like a dork but knows his stuff. 5/7 would bet
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I apparently get very bored very quickly reading about math.
Clare Katz
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the biggest rushes in a poker player's life is becoming a real money player. Making that very first deposit enters you into a new world of poker. For some this step is not very easy with team. Most new players make a small deposit and play at low limits, improving their strategy, and get a feel for which poker variation is his or her favorite. It's difficult to become a winning poker player from the very beginning and to be able to keep your poker bankroll stable, and maybe ...more
Ritesh Chhajer
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ 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.

The psychology of poker is also an important aspect of the game. You should think not only about what your opponents have, but about what they think you have and about what they think you think they have.
Skippy Young
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book for understanding the basics of strategy in multiple types of poker. It is a great base for people who want to start understanding poker on a deeper level. At the same time, despite being so small it feels about a bit dense and can occationally be a slow read (and probably an impossible read for people that don't like hearing about math). All in all I personally feel its been helpful and would recommend it.
Cynthia Van
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very helpful examples to illustrate his points, not so advanced a relative novice can’t follow his logic, informative without being dry. Really opens up how difficult it is to play poker with consistent success. Didn’t have the patience to figure out all the different types of poker games so I glossed over several examples, and the last 1/4 of the book wanders so I found myself skimming to finish.
Brook Davis
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
It sounds interesting! I'm pretty new to poker. I tried to play it on and understood that I need to improve my skills. So, I guess, this book can help me. Does it include pictures with different poker schemes? ...more
Claudio Romero
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This awesome book brings both essential and more complex concepts. It is not attached to a single style o type of poker, but to its true science.

David is such a good writer, he presents the most difficult ideas very clearly. I'd recommend it to anyone willing to improve his/her game.
Alex Iltchev
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, poker
OK for an average player but needs more explanations with actual hands shown in visual form. Harrington's Hold-em is better in that respect.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Poker Bible for any legitimate cards player. Second read, and learned far more than my first dive in. Sklansky is the GOAT poker scholar.
Yang Zheng
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book to move beyond just the basics of poker. You won’t look at the game the same way again. This is a good foundation book on which to develop one’s own game.
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Bible of intelligent betting. Absolutely an essential read for traders and investors alike.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any poker.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Good book with the fundamentals and skills needed to play the game well. It is not an engaging read, and the examples are sometimes not much interesting, unless you frequently play different styles (not my case, I only play TH)... took me a while to go through the whole thing, still, I can see why everyone recommends it.
Harry Lee
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is clear, poker is not my kind of game.
Fast thinking and calculating.
But for anyone trying to understand the game, this is the book to start with.
Orlando Rueda
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Recommended if you like poker. It is a great and entertaining reading. Is a little hard to understand if you do not have some sort of pre knowledge.
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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

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