This is a discussion on Back to Books: The Theory of Poker (Sklansky) within the online poker forums, in the Learning Poker section; I read The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky several years ago. Other than the fundamental theorem of poker (simplified: playing the hand as perfectly 

Page 1 of 2  Register or Use the arrow to the right to read the next 1 page(s). 
Back to Books: The Theory of Poker (Sklansky) 
#1




Back to Books: The Theory of Poker (Sklansky)
I read The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky several years ago. Other than the fundamental theorem of poker (simplified: playing the hand as perfectly as if you could see all cards), I vaguely remember other lessons from it. My opinion is that, though the techniques of playing poker have changed, this book is still relevant in terms of foundation knowledge.
I am going to reread the book, get back to the basics that helped me love and be somewhat successful at poker in the first place. Grab a copy and reread The Theory of Poker with me OR instead of bookclubbing everyone I'll post the main takeaways from my perspective. I would love to get discussion/review/learning (relearning) going with the CardsChat community! Chapter 01: Beyond Beginning Poker Poker has many variations (i.e limit/pot limit/no limit & high/low/highlow split) but there is an inner poker logic (not tricks) that runs through all of them and there are precepts, concepts and theories that apply to all of them. Whether playing poker for fun/living and regardless of the environment (friends/casino) or frequency (once a week/month) our objective in playing poker is to MAKE MONEY! Making money means saving it on bad nights (leaving a game that is not profitable, where we are the underdog) and earning it on good nights (drinking caffeine to stay awake at a game that is profitable, where we are a favorite). Long Term Thinking is Important! It is important for a player to be disciplined enough to play every hand correctly, EVERY TIME.
__________________

Similar Threads for: Back to Books: The Theory of Poker (Sklansky)  
Thread  Replies  Last Post  Forum  
Poker books  that aren’t poker books.  11  June 26th, 2021 2:35 PM  General Poker 
#2




I have been reflecting on my play throughout the last year as related to the information quoted below from Skalansky's Ch 1.
Cheers! scubed
__________________

#3




Will you do the same for every chapter of the book ? If yes, this is an awesome idea !
To answer your question : 1. I wouldn't necessary stop playing. Loosing with AA/KK happens, and if you can keep playing the same after that, there is no reason for stopping. However, if you get tilted by it and it affects your way of playing, then stop. 2. If you are not comfortable at a table, I think you should find another one or stop.
__________________

#4




scubed
__________________

#5




Chapter 02: Expectation and Hourly Rate
The Theory of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 02: Expectation and Hourly Rate Mathematical expectation has nothing to do with results! "Anytime you make a bet with the best of it, where the odds are in your favor, you have earned something on that bet whether you actually win or lose the bet. By the same token, when you make a bet with the worst of it, where the odds are not in your favor, your have lost something, whether you actually win or lose the bet" Skalansky, Theory of Poker p10 Poker decisions based on positive mathematical expectation (+EV) will ensure long term winning (positive results) regardless of the immediate result (i.e. getting sucked out on with runner/runner). Understanding mathematical expectation provides a sense of calmness/composure toward winning/losing; making a good bet or a good fold a good player will earn/save an amount which a lesser player would not have earned/saved. Maximize your hourly rate by always trying to make the play that will maximize positive mathematical expectation and minimize negative mathematical expectation. Do NOT sit in a game with an insufficient hour rate projection unless you think the game will become better (i.e. weaker players on the way to the game OR good player on tilt). Short Bankroll Consideration! It may not be correct to push small mathematical edges to the maximum (optimizing positive mathematical expectation) when a player has a short bankroll. Though your hourly rate will be reduced it might be wise to play a few more hours instead of taking big risks with marginal advantages on a short bankroll. Money will still be earned (to increase the bankroll) it will just take more time.  In the closing paragraphs of the chapter Sklansky suggests that when a player has a short bankroll that they consider NOT pushing marginal +EV decisions and instead play more hours. I'm wondering if this strategy is dated... that in today's game even a marginal advantage should be leveraged. Do you agree with this risk adverse approach when a bankroll is short or would you advocate that ANY time there is a mathematical advantage more chips get in the middle?
__________________

#6




Nice, thanks man !
Yeah I agree with him. If you have a good bankroll, you can always face a bad run, you are prepared to the possibility that variance might **** you up. If you have a small bankroll, variance could just kill it, so you have to be more careful. So, I would play when EV is not only positive, but also above a certain value. For freerolls, I think you can just play as you would normally, as it doesn't affect your bankroll if you loose.
__________________

#7




I'll check this book out. I posted a thread asking for recommendations for books and how it helped people. I'm trying to understand as many aspects of the game as possible. Some are a bit advanced but I'm trying to build a solid foundation. If there's any other things that have helped you gain knowledge away from the table I'm all ears!
__________________

#8




Hi Eric  Like you, I'm trying to study all aspects of the game. I learned to play NL several year ago, but I just jumped in, so I don't have the foundation "book knowledge." I bought a lot of books, but to be honest, I only skimmed the parts that were interesting to me, I didn't actually study them. Round 2 of reading the books, I'm going to study!
If you are reading through The Theory of Poker with me, my plan is to complete one chapter per day. scubed
__________________

#9




Chapter 03: The Fundamental Theorem of Poker
The Theory of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 03: The Fundamental Theorem of Poker The Fundamental Theorem of Poker is a theoretical proposition articulated by David Sklansky that he believes expresses the essential nature of poker as a game of decisionmaking in the face of incomplete information. The Fundamental Theorem of Poker ALWAYS applies in a twoway pot; however, in a multiway 3 or more pot there are exceptions (Skalansky addresses this briefly, Morton's Theorem expands upon Sklansky's observation). A mistake, per The Fundamental Theorem of Poker, is not necessarily a player playing badly, it is a player playing differently than the way that they would if the opponents' cards were known. You WANT your opponent to do whatever is MOST profitable to YOU!
 Players are often afraid to get sucked out on so frequently overbet a pot to get their opponents to fold when a draw (especially a flush draw) is on the board. Assuming you are headsup (2way pot), are you aligned with The Fundamental Theorem of Poker? Do you take the time to work out the pot odds on making the call with a draw or do you instead call with the thought process of "I have a lot of outs" and hope to get lucky?
__________________

#10




interesting..
I have not read the book yet, I'm going to look for it and I'll read it. Do you know if it is available in playstore? and if it is in Spanish ?. I hope to see your results hopefully you will succeed well.
__________________

#11




You might do a Google Search  I was able to find a pdf file which has the first few chapters for free as a preview.
__________________

#12




Like most of this book, I doubt that this idea will ever become dated. It's +EV to put all or most of your chips in the middle when you have, for example, a 55% chance of winning. But if you can't reload (or can only reload a few times), and you are likely to find better spots later, it is even more +EV to wait for those better spots. The tricky thing is quantifying:  How small your edge needs to be  How short your bankroll needs to be  What size the pot needs to be in order for it to make sense for you to pass up marginal spots. The answer partially depends upon your skill level compared to the skill level of the other players. Realistically, the best you can do is make a very rough estimate. Ideally, play games for which you are properly rolled! The question of whether to pursue small edges in tournaments is closely related, and comes up no matter what is the size of your overall bankroll. Having a huge bankroll doesn't matter if you have a short stack in a tournament, especially if the tournament doesn't allow you to rebuy or reenter for a competitivesized stack. ICM helps determine what risks are worth taking in those situations.
__________________

#13




Hi Scubed, well I think what you have on the go here is absolutely awesome. I too have been playing a long time and just jumped in, got loads of books but didn't really put enough into them to really benefit. And that shows in my results, or lack thereof. So I'm going to follow your lead and swat up on the ups and downs of our favourite game ....lol...all the best at the tables
__________________

#14




Hi AlexTheOwl,
Thank you for your detailed conversation. Do you have any ideas about where to start in quantifying the quoted? Especially your thoughts on "how small the edge" and "size of the pot."
scubed
__________________

#15




I don't. Which means playing with a small bankroll would force me to make estimates that are likely to be unsound.
The most practical advice I can think of that derives from Sklansky's point here is to avoid near coin flips if playing cash with an inadequate bankroll with opponents against whom you have an edge in skill. For example, under those circumstances, I'd fold 88 or 99 headsup against an allin opponent who covers me whose range I estimate at 22+,AQ+, even though calling with 88 or better is +EV.
__________________

#16




Chapter 04: The Ante Structure
The Theory of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 04: The Ante Structure All poker starts as a struggle for the forced bets (blinds and/or antes) without which there would be no reason to play. Players find themselves in trouble when they either play too many hands or too few hands in relation to the size of the forced bet. The amount of the forced bet suggests a general principle of play...
When the forced bets (blinds and/or antes) are LARGE...
__________________

#17




re: Poker & Back to Books: The Theory of Poker (Sklansky)
I love this thread, will follow. And I think it's time for me to visit my local library for some extra knowledge. Keep it up bro!
__________________

#18




Nice, once again thanks !
For the chapter 4, I feel like that's roughly what I'm doing when I play, but now I see why it is this way and why it is a good idea. Plus now that I know that, I'll try to use that consciously.
__________________

#19




Chapter 05: Pot Odds
The Theory of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 05: Pot Odds Pot odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of a contemplated call. If there is $500 in the pot and you are considering calling $100 you are getting 5to1 odds for the call. In this example when you believe your chances to win are better than 5to1 then it is correct to call. If you think your chances are worse than 5to1 then you should fold. There are two scenarios:
__________________

#20




During live inperson play I find that I can calculate the pot odds themselves fairly quickly; however, I am sometimes slow to calculate the chance to improve for comparison.
During online play the 'shot clock' will catch me (especially in turbos) and fold my hand occasionally OR I will make the call/fold without having the math done. Do you have any tricks that you use to make these calculations more quickly?
__________________

#21




I think you just have to get used to the calculations, to drill yourself. Either by playing and getting experience or by reviewing your hands and doing it calmly without a time limit. After a while, you can sort of remember the odds of drawing a flush, a straight, ... as those are most of the time the same.
I often find myself playing too quick because I'm scared to run out of time. Then I get a bit more time to think calmly about what I just did, and realize I just did a mistake. So I'm trying to drill myself to make those calculations and decisions quicker.
__________________

#22




Chapter 06: Effective Odds
The Theory of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 06: Effective Odds When you have a hand that needs to improve recognize that future bets typically reduce the pot odds substantially. Chances of making a hand improve greatly with the number of cards to come, but the odds a player is getting from the pot worsen. If a player is contemplating a call right now, they will likely have to put $$ in the pot on future betting rounds and that $$ should also be taken into account. Effective odds are the real odds a player is getting from the pot when the player calls a bet with more than one card to come. For example: In Hold 'Em if a player flops 4 to a flush then they should compute the odds to see the next 2 cards (unless they plan to give up on the turn when the flush card does not come). There are times when the immediate odds are sufficient and a player doesn't need to compute effective odds due to future bets: player is allin, player predicts that the next card will be free, player plans on folding if the next card doesn't improve hand.
__________________

#23




For myself, Effective Odds seem easier (more logical) to calculate for Limit games  where the betting amount is absolute each round. In NoLimit games it seems like a player would have to guess at what the future bets would be which could create an incorrect calculation/estimation of the Effective Odds.
Am I thinking about this incorrectly? Thanks!
__________________

#24




It's harder to calculate the effective odds in No Limit. But that only makes it more important that you try to do so, since they can vary so much.
For example, if your opponent raised preflop, raises preflop quite often, usually bets halfpot, and has a habit of cbetting the flop and checking the turn, your effective odds may be very good. If your opponent raised preflop, raises with a tight range preflop, only bets when he has a hand, usually makes potsized bets, and tends to bet multiple streets, your effective odds could be very poor.
__________________

#25




Chapter 07: Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds
The Theory of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 07: Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds When thinking about implied odds think about the size of the immediate call and if you hit your card can you get the size of future bets to be really big (and your opponent to call). Implied Odds are the ratio of the total expected win when your card hits to the immediate cost of calling a bet. Sklansky, Theory of Poker p.55 Famous Implied Odds hand: 1980 WSOP Doyle A7 vs Stu 54s. Stu called off a gut shot with less than 3to1 immediate pot odds but 14.5to1 implied odds (Doyle's whole stack). Stu hit his 3 for a straight (busted Doyle's 2 pair) to win the tourney. When estimating implied odds a player must predict...
Example of reverse implied odds scenario: Player has AA. Flop comes 7h8h10h. When the opponent bets it might be better to consider folding. A player could be in reverse implied odds situations...
__________________

#26




Understanding (and remembering) the difference between effective, implied and reversed implied odds is difficult! I'm trying to sort it all out  but unsure if I've understand and then interpreted correctly. Following is my working list that I'd like to make better so that it sticks to my memory and I can put the information to use.
__________________

#27




Totally agree with the tips here. If anyone can send me links in the forum with additional articles that will help me improve my game I will greatly appreciate
__________________

#28




Nice
Just reading a few of the quotes here I find very inspiring and realise that this could be the key to getting a better hold on my skill set and consistent results.
Thanks for the heads up on this I will be checking out the book! Good luck at the tables!
__________________

#29




For example, in your effective odds definition, I am not sure if you think "pot odds" and potential win or loss are the same thing? Potential win or loss is more of an implied odds / reverse implied odds concept. For effective odds, you should be thinking about what is likely to happen on the next street: What equity are you likely to have? Will your opponent bet? How much? How will your equity compare to your pot odds then? Will you have to fold? If yes, then is it still profitable to make or call a bet on the flop, planning to fold if the turn is not a good card for you? Sklansky's definitions don't mention losing or winning the maximum, or getting stacked. Implied odds and reverse implied odds do not only apply to those situations. It's about how many BB you realistically expect to win or lose, not about going all in. Does your opponent have a deep stack? If you are lucky enough to hit your draw, are they likely to just fold when you bet? Are you in a situation where you are likely to end up having invested a lot of BB with the secondbest hand?
__________________

#30




I'll update this thread with any information I get!
__________________

#31




Cool, good luck with that!
__________________

#32




Chapter 08: The Value of Deception
The Theory of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 08: The Value of Deception Deception (disguising the hand) is a technique for maximizing profit of poker hands. When to use deception...
Consider these deception strategies...
__________________

#33




Do you feel that you are more successful winning big pots by slowplaying big hands? Do you have any data (that you are willing to share) about your poker hands to back up your feeling?
__________________

#34




re: Poker & Back to Books: The Theory of Poker (Sklansky)
The Theory Of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 09: Win the Big Pots Right Away When a player is in a had where the pot that has become large, he should strive to win the pot right away. When a player has the best hand... The larger the pot the more a player should bet (or raise) to drive opponents out and take down the pot right away. There is an exception  when a player has the absolute nuts (rare) the player should strive to get as much into the pot as possible on each round When a player has the secondbest hand... The larger the pot, specifically when it is multiway, when a player has the secondbest hand the player should consider a bet to drive opponents out (isolate) to improve chances to win the pot. Also consider this strategy when an opponent to the right bets; raise even with the secondbest hand to drive other opponents out.
__________________

#35




Chapter 10: The Free Card
The Theory Of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 10: The Free Card When a player has the best hand giving an opponent a free card is to give the opponent a chance to improve to the best hand. When a player does NOT have the best hand, a free card is a shot at improving to the best hand! A free card is... Infinite odds (zero investment) on improving in the given betting round Never correct to give when the pot is large Rarely correct to give when the pot is mediumsized Conditions that might be incorrect to bet (give a free card)... The pot is small, a player can gain more by using deception A player is attempting to checkraise Very strong hand whilst the pot is medium sized A player hopes his opponent makes a mistake and calls  but making the opponent fold is better than giving him a free card to improve to the best hand.
__________________

#36




I'm glad to see this back !
Makes sense to me, although you should still be careful when bluffing in big pots, cause you could loose a lot.
__________________

#37




Chapter 11: The SemiBluff
The Theory Of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 11: The SemiBluff The more ways a player's hand can improve to the best hand, the more reason to consider semibluff betting. Semibluffing adds equity to a hand due to the possibility of the opponent folding to the semibluff. When there is no chance that the opponent will fold the value of the semibluff becomes questionable. When a player uses a semibluff they hope to...
A player should consider a semibluff when...
__________________

#38




Interesting, up until now I didn't really give any though about the position when semibluffing, but it's a good point. I will definitely read this again tomorrow before I start playing, to make sure I think about it while playing.
Once again, thanks for this post, it really helps !
__________________

#39




Cheers!
__________________

#40




Chapter 12: Defense Against the SemiBluff
The Theory Of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 12: Defense Against the SemiBluff A semibluff is very hard to defend against. When the pot is small and the opponent is semibluffing it might be correct to fold, especially in "coinflip" scenarios, the other alternative is to raise. When the pot is large and the opponent is semibluffing calling is almost always correct. When an opponent semibluffs take into consideration the three ways he can win...
Calling might be correct when...
__________________

#42




Thanks for this thread, scubed! This is a great idea! I have this book as well and can read along!
__________________

#43




Chapter 13: Raising
The Theory Of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 13: Raising Raising is often a better alternative than folding, with calling the worst of the three options (scenario occurs frequently in multiway pots). In Chapter 13 Sklansky breaks down the main reasons for raising.
__________________

#44




Thank you so much for the thread, scubed!!
Unfortunately I haven't yet had the opportunity to read this book, but I'm already jotting down all these summaries here in my notepad! Now I'll do my best to put the concepts into practice! Continue with this great thread and if you could, you could make other threads like this, but with different books...
__________________

#45




Chapter 14: Check Raising
The Theory Of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 14: Check Raising Checkraising is checking a players (your) hand with the intention of raising after an opponent bets. When attempting a checkraise a player must consider...
In multiway pots it is frequently correct to checkraise with a secondbest hand if this action will drive opponents out.
__________________

#46




Best sites or books to learn
Hello, I'm sure it has been asked before, what are the best ways to learn better poker without spending a bunch of money for someone fairly new to poker. I have been watching a lot on youtube. thank you.
__________________

#47




Here you can learn everything. But also continue to watch videos on youtube. Watch previous big tournaments and learn from the best. Also there are a lot of channels teaching poker for free so there you go.
__________________

#48




I'm following !!!
I separated the content until then reflect and make comments later !! GL TO EVERYBODY !!
__________________

#49




Chapter 15: Slowplaying
The Theory Of Poker, David Sklansky
Chapter 15: Slowplaying The reason to slowplay is to show a larger profit on a strong (not the nuts, but a great hand) hand than a player would otherwise gain if betting on early rounds. Do not slowplay when...
__________________

#50




Once again, thanks for this post !
I would add that in chapter 13, you have to be careful about whether you are raising to build a pot (1.) or raising to drive out opponents (2.) . It's important to know if you are raising for value or to protect your hand and are scared that one (or more) opponent will improve his hand on future streets.
__________________


Similar Threads for: Back to Books: The Theory of Poker (Sklansky) > Texas Hold'em Poker  
Thread  Replies  Last Post  Forum  
Poker books  that aren’t poker books.  11  June 26th, 2021 2:35 PM  General Poker 