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The Theory of poker

Title: The Theory of poker – a professional poker player teaches you to think like one

Author: David Sklansky

Facts: “The Theory of Poker” contains 272 text pages and some appendixes. The poker book is published by two plus two publishing LLC. You can buy it from at $17.

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About the author

David Sklansky Poker
David Sklansky Poker Pro

David Sklansky is number one in poker theory. He has written about 10 books about gambling and card games. He is one of the people behind two plus two publishing. He showed at the World poker tours “poker by the book” that he is a great player when he won the tournament beating Doyle Brunson heads up. He is known for his mathematical skills.


The Theory of Poker is a book that is a bit different from some of the other poker books. Sklansky chooses to write about poker with a general approach and he doesn’t beat around the bush. He simply explains things with his “Its all about winning the money” approach. That is probably why you are reading this poker book review, you trust Sklansky and want to become a better player and win all the money!

Sklansky’s aim with “The Theory of Poker” is to provide the reader with a greater understanding of the game, whether it is Texas Hold’em, Omaha, five-card stud or Razz. He tries and succeeds in capturing the basic nature of poker. He explains poker strategy and theoretical parts of the game and in many cases I got an “Aha!” experience when I read the book. A lot of the feelings I had about the game, Sklansky put words to.

An interesting part of the book is the “fundamental theorem of poker”. Study this book and think about it and you will realize that teaching poker is so simple that anybody could do it. However, I think that geniuses are the ones who can make the complex stuff look easy. Most of the book is easy to read and to understand. Of course, you can tell that Sklansky loves his mathematical approach to the game.

A big part of “The Theory of Poker” is about playing poker by calculating poker odds. He covers pot, effective, implied and reverse implied odds, and all of the other strategies you need to have in your toolbox to become a great poker player. But, an even bigger part of the book is about deception and different types of plays, i.e. when to give a free card, when and how to semi-bluff and how to defend yourself when you believe someone is trying to make a move.

The odds part might be a bit hard to read if you are not used to calculating math problems or analyzing statistics, or maybe have forgotten what you learned in school. We suggest you really put your mind into it and read it a couple of times. The studying will pay off in the long run.

There are also chapters about analysing a table from different angles. How is the ante structure? What are the poker betting strategies? Are the players playing loose or are they playing tight? This will teach you how to find your opponent’s mistakes and the most important part: how you take advantage of them.

The chapters about bluffing are very significant to describe the structure of the book. Of course, he explains when and how to bluff, but Sklansky doesn’t stop there. He goes further and explains why bluffing is such an important part of the game, using theories and statistical methods to prove it.

This book is a keeper. It is an academic way to get into the game of poker. Even if the theory and mathematical part of poker only covers a bit of the complexity of the game you need to master them to be able to get a chance to improve other parts. And its were this book earns its space in your bookshelf. I suggest that this book is included among the 3 first poker books you study. You will probably get wiser by reading it and when you understand the theory, you can go further, both in making money and learning how to avoid mistakes and analyze your personal poker game.

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