In all of the poker books that have ever been written then few quotes and strategies have been quoted as often as the “fundamental theorem of poker” which is inside The Theory of Poker written by David Sklansky. For me then this book was the next great theory book to arrive on the scene after Supersystem by Doyle Brunson and it rightly takes its place within the all-time great works on poker. This is one of the very few books that I take the time to read frequently that is 25 years old or more and I cannot give it much greater praise than that.
Introducing David Sklansky
Today then David Sklansky has become one of the biggest names in the world of poker books and his publishing company at Two Plus Two have sold more books than any other. David Sklansky was already a name on the poker circuit well before The Theory of Poker hit the shelves for the first time in 1987. He had already written poker books before that date but he was also regarded as a top player as well and probably his greatest accolade was when the great Doyle Brunson asked him to provide one of the chapters for his seminal Supersystem that came out in 1978.
David Sklansky has written books with other authors as well and the most well-known is Mason Malmuth with who he wrote several books on general gambling and other forms of poker. But Sklansky is also an expert on gambling theory and game theory as well and his insights twenty five years ago are still largely valid today. However if anyone were to think that David Sklansky is dated then you couldn’t be more wrong. Like any expert who is well grounded in his subject then he has also moved with the times as well and this has led to him writing more recent books like No Limit Hold’em Theory and Practice with Ed Miller.
If you have ever wondered how to really get underneath the skin of poker and what makes it the game that it is and the game that we love so much then The Theory of Poker is simply a book that you must read. Forget that the book was first printed twenty five years ago because there isn’t a single player alive that cannot learn from this book. But what makes the book so great for me is that no matter how often you read the book, you will always learn something new. When your understanding expands with experience then you can go back to the book and you will see and understand concepts that you didn’t understand before even when you thought that you had the game all figured out.
Many no limit hold’em players will see the hand examples taken from games like Seven Card Stud, Draw and Razz and mistakenly think that the material doesn’t apply to them. If you think that then your understanding is flawed because all poker forms are linked and are all variations of each other. Whatever parts of poker you can think of then The Theory of Poker not only discusses it but discusses it in great detail.
Like most of the books from Two Plus Two then The Theory of Poker does not fall short when it comes to volume either and weighs in at almost three hundred pages. Whether you want to learn about expectations and hourly rates to ante structures, bluffing, check-raising, psychology or anything else, this book more so than any other poker book does that for you.
What else can I say about The Theory of Poker? Well firstly writing this review about a book that I have read more times than I can care to remember has actually reminded me that I need to read the book again since it has been more than a year since my last read and that is far too long. If you want to be critical of the book then you can say that the book does not discuss online poker and the nuances of that game like with tracking software and rakeback for example.
Well this does not highlight flaws in the book in my opinion but merely underlines the fact that you need to get your information from numerous sources and that it simply isn’t possible to find out everything that you need from one source however great it is. Reading this book repeatedly is a must for any poker player that is serious about playing the game to a high level. Even if you are already a very highly proficient player then you will still have much to learn and pick up as a result of reading one of the best poker strategy books ever written.
Written by: Carl “The Dean” Sampson - Poker author, writer and professional online player