Ligaz11 Review of The Theory of Poker

Let’s get right to the point. This is the single most important book on poker ever published. The Theory of Poker does not contain a lot of information on how to play certain hands, and in those places where it does, it is only to illustrate a bigger point. The methodology taught here is to understand general situations, not specific instances that one will encounter in play, thus it truly is The Theory of Poker.


Now, don’t get the idea that merely by possessing this book and holding it next to your head for a while you’ll turn into a world class poker player. That is not at all the case. This book does not require reading to unlock its wisdom, it requires study, and many hours of it. Unless your are a seasoned poker veteran, you cannot expect to get very much out of it the first time through. This book requires, and warrants, several thorough readings.


Right from the preface, the reader is advised as to what will be required:


This book is about the general theories and concepts of ligaz11 poker play, which are operative in nearly every variation of poker… . It is not a how-to book in the sense of providing the basic rules and a step-by-step procedure for playing the various games. […] Rules of thumb that say to fold one hand, call with another, and raise with yet another simply won’t get a poker player beyond the beginning stages.

Sklansky discusses many critical concepts of poker, often for the first time anywhere. He discusses pot odds, effective odds, implied odds, and reverse implied odds. He covers the semi-bluff, defending against the semi-bluff, check-raising, and slowplaying. He covers the advanced topics of game theory, hand reading, and psychology. There is no important aspect of poker play that escapes Sklansky’s attention.


Because of the depth and breadth of the subject matter he covers, Sklansky’s readers will have to spend significant time to apply this information to their own games, hence the requirement for study. Despite the fact that Sklansky communicates this information in as clear a manner as I could imagine, there is still sufficient opportunity for the reader to misunderstand or misapply the principles offered here. As I’ve repeatedly said, even though this is a critically important book, it is by no means an easy book.


The bottom line, though, is that in my opinion it is the best book on poker ever published. This is an absolute must read for all serious players, but be prepared to spend some serious time on it.



In my opinion, this is the most important book on poker ever published. This is a serious work and it deserves (and requires) a great deal of study by those who wish to learn its principles. It’s my opinion that the poker skills of those who do not study this book will significantly lag behind those who do. If you’re a serious poker player, you cannot afford not to read this book.