Preface

This book is about the general theories and concepts of poker play, which are operative in nearly every variation of poker from five-card draw to Texas hold 'em. 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. Beginning poker players sometimes ask, "What do you do in this particular situation?" There is really no correct answer to that question because it's the wrong question. 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.

The right question is: "What do you consider in this particular situation before determining what to do?" The Theory of Poker addresses itself to such considerations. It analyzes every aspect of a poker hand from the ante structure to play after the last card has been dealt. By explaining the logic of poker, the book will, I hope, show the reader what kinds of things to think about in order to become a better player.

To illustrate the concepts presented, I use primarily five games — five-card draw, seven-card stud, hold 'em, draw lowball, and razz or seven-card lowball. For readers who may not be familiar with one or another of these games, I give brief summaries of their rules in the Appendix. I also use standard poker terms like flop, on board, sixth street, back-door flush, and the like. As much as possible, I explain these terms in the text, but readers can avail themselves of the Glossary of Poker Terms at the back of the book to check the definitions of any terms about which they are uncertain.

The Theory of Poker is an expansion and total revision of the book Sklansky on Poker Theory, written by David Sklansky and originally published by Gambler's Book Club of Las Vegas in 1978. That book was directed primarily to professional poker xii Preface players. This book is directed to poker players in general, who know the basics, who may even be good players, but who want to delve deeper into the inner workings of the game. It is not an easy book, but a careful reading of it should reap rich rewards. Note: This book was formerly titled Winning Poker.

Gambling Generics

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