Theory of Poker

Sklansky's Theory of Poker

The Theory of Poker

Poker Book by David Sklansky

Review by Lawrence Gilbert
David Sklansky Theory Book

The Theory of Poker

Theory of Poker bookPoker is played on a variety of different levels. Beginning poker players concentrate on the basics of the game. This includes learning the rules of the game, memorizing hand values, and making playing decisions based on pot odds. There are some great books designed to help poker players build their fundamentals during the beginning stages of poker. The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky is not one of them.

Theory is for poker players who are interested in taking their game to the next level. The author of the book is David Sklansky, a professional poker player and well-known poker writer and theorist. The Theory of Poker has remained on players must read list for over ten years and no one can argue with that kind of staying power.

The premise of Theory of Poker is to teach the reader how to think like a professional poker player. It is very conceptual, introducing its readers to fundamental principles that they will be able to apply to a variety of different situations and types of games. It is not a book that teaches tactical strategy that one can take out and apply immediately to his next home game. Rather, it is reads more like a textbook requiring thoughtful study and more than one read through.

The books thesis revolves around the fundamental theory of poker, which states that every time you make a decision that you would not make if you could see you opponents hand, you lose. Conversely every time an opponent makes a decision they would not make if they could see you hand, you gain. The book then goes on to describes principles that will allow the reader to take advantage of this theorem. These principles include bluffing, semi-bluffing, deception, free cards, slow playing, position and reading hands.

The Theory of Poker is not a new or cutting edge poker book. It was written over ten years ago. However, most successful players admit to having read Theory and applying these concepts to their game. It stands to reason that there is great value in learning how these players think, and how to use counter strategies against them.

There is no doubt that poker has changed tremendously over the ten years since this book has been written. Internet poker has accelerated the learning curve of most players because they are able to play many more hands per hour than they could at brick and mortar casinos. The success of aggressive players on televised events has illustrated the importance of aggression in no limit hold em tournaments. Finally, the poker explosion has resulted in a glut of poker books from almost every known player willing to share the secrets to their success.

Despite these changes, the Theory of Poker remains as valuable today as it was ten years ago. Books that give out practical advice about specific situations and games normally lose their value as game conditions evolve and change. Indeed, even great poker books like Dolye Brunsonís Super System has lost some of its value because when the book was written, no one knew how to play No Limit Holdem. It was much easy to get peoples money simply by being aggressive and doing nothing else.

The Theory of Poker is the poker equivalent of teaching a person to fish instead of giving them the fish. By learning the fundamentals principles of the game and learning what to consider in certain game situations (instead of what to do), the reader will be able to be successful at poker regardless of the games or the conditions.

In summary, The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky is a must read for every poker player who, after mastering the basics of the game, is looking to play at the next level. The book will give readers the tools they need to get inside the head of advanced players and profit from less experienced players. It requires a significant investment from its readers, as the concepts must be digested over several read throughs. However, those who are willing to put in the time will be rewarded with knowledge that will serve them for a long time to come. The book was formerly titled Winning Poker.

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Dave Sklansky

Other book reviews by Lawrence Gilbert:
Harrington on Holdem vol. 1
Harrington on Holdem vol. 2
Holdem Poker for Advanced Players
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Theory of Poker Book Review


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