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The Theory of Poker Book Information and Review

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  • Paperback
  • ISBN 1-880685-00-0
  • ISBN 1880685000
  • Text Copyright
  • In The Theory of Poker(isbn:1880685000), Sklansky explains early that poker is a game of skill. He talks about good players suffering bad beats because they put lesser skilled players at the mercy of luck.
       "However, it is more likely for a good player like Baldwin to suffer these bad beats, as they are called, than for an average player or a weak player to suffer them. 'I've heard good players complain to me about how they get drawn out on all the time,' Baldwin said after the 1981 tournament. 'But if they want to better their game and better their emotional state while playing, they should realize it's a mirage. If you are an excellent player, people are going to draw out on you a lot more than you're going to draw out on them because they're simply going to have the worst hand against you a lot more times than you have the worst hand against them. There's no way you're going to draw out on anybody if you don't get all your money in there on the worst hand.'
       As Baldwin implies, expert players do not rely on luck." [1-2]

    Sklansky points out a common mistakes among poker players. Assuming that winning a lot of pots at all costs equates to winning a lot of money can be dangerous.
       "You may occasionally be in a game where the best strategy is to win as many pots as possible, but such games are exceptions. In most games the bets you save are as important as the bets you win, because your real goal is to maximize your wins and minimize your losses. Ideally you want the pots you win to be as big as possible and the pots you lose to contain nothing more than your ante. You must remember that reducing losses - by not making the calls, for example, that a weaker player would make - adds that much more to your win when the game is over." [6]
    The author takes this concept even further later on in the book. "You should even derive satisfaction from a losing session when you know that other players would have lost much more with your cards." [13]

    The fundamental theory of poker is outlined early in the book.
       "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." [17-18]

    Calculating pot odds is an important part of poker. The author explains that it does not matter who put in what percentage of the pot.
       "The fact that $1 or one-eigth of the ante money was originally yours is of no consequence. In truth, it is no longer yours. The moment you place your $1 ante in the pot, it belongs to the pot, not to you ... However, it is absolutely irrelevent whether you put the money in there or someone else did. It is the total amount, no part of which belongs to you any longer, that should determine how you play your hand." [28-29]

    An important adjustment is being able to change the style of play based on the size of the ante. "The general rule is that as the ante decreases, you must tighten up." [33]

    Implies odds are another important part of poker. "Implied odds are based on the possibility of winning money in later betting rounds over and above what is in the pot already." [55] Calculating implied odds can be difficult. "In adding the possibility of future bets to the present pot to get your implied odds, you should take into account whether the strength of your hand is hidden." [58]

    Like most things with poker, the timing and importance of deception are constantly changing.    "The general rule is:The better the players and the smaller the pot, the more you disguise your hand when there are more cards to come. The worse the players and the larger the pot, the more you play your hand normally, without regard to giving anything away." [68]


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