Review: The Theory of Poker

The Theory of PokerThe Theory of Poker by David Sklansky is probably the most comprehensive book ever written on poker strategy. Sklansky covers bluffing, slow playing, game theory, table selection, and every other topic you can think of. While the book was written several years ago, almost everything can still be applied to today’s styles of play.

I will say that this book should not be the first poker book you read. It shouldn’t even be the second or third. The concepts would easily confuse someone that is just learning the game. There were times while reading TOP that I was confused. The book is just loaded with information. I doubt I’ll ever understand it all, even if I read it 100 times in the next year. I’m not trying to scare anyone away from reading the book, because it’s a must read for any poker player serious about learning the game. I’m simply saying that there’s a lot to take in.

One of the most brilliant, yet simple, things I’ve ever read about poker is Sklanky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker:

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. 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.

The age of the book can be seen by the number of examples relating to games such as Stud, Razz, and Draw poker, but the concepts can be applied to any game out there. It would be nice if Sklansky would come out with a revision that just related to hold’em, the most popular form of poker today.

Like I said before, if you’ve read a few other poker books, feel free to jump into TOP, otherwise wait until you have some more experience and reading under your belt. Once you do though, dive right in. I give the book an A.


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