The Theory of Poker

David Sklansky


Chapter 3

The Fundamental Theorem of Poker: Every time your opponents play their hand differently from the way that they would if they could see all your cards, you gain.

Chapter 4

With a low ante you should play tight, and as the ante increases, you should loosen up.

Chapter 6 - Effective Odds

Add all the calls you will have to make, assuming you play to the end, to determine the total amount you will lose if you don't make your hand. Then compare this figure to the total amount you should win if you do make the hand. If, on early betting rounds, these odds are greater than your chances of making your hand, you are correct to see the hand through the end. If they are not, you should fold.

Chapter 7 - Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds

Chapter 8 - Deception

The better the players and the smaller the pot, the more you disguise your hand when there are more cards to come.

Chapter 9

When the pot is big, you want to win it right away by driving everybody out. Bet and raise even with a second best hand. The fewer opponents you have in a pot, the greater your chances of winning it.

Chapter 10 - The Free Card

A mistake that costs you the pot is a catastrophe, while a mistake that costs you one bet is not. Never give free cards with a strong hand except for deception purposes with a monster-hand.

Chapter 11 - The Semi-Bluff

Semi-Bluffing has lots of benefits, but should be used only with more cards to come and as first to act.

Chapter 12 - Defense against the Semi-Bluff

The Semi-Bluff Raise and Delayed Semi-Bluff Raise.

Chapter 13 - Raising

Raising is often an alternative to folding (because the Semi-Bluff might steal the pot), while calling is altogether incorrect. 'A caller in poker is a loser in poker.'

Chapter 14 - Check-Raising

Check-Raising is devious and deceitful, but being devious and deceitful is precisely what one wants to be in a poker game.

To check-raise with a hand with which you want to thin out the field, you want the bettor to your right so that people will have to call a double bet to stay in. With a very strong hand and with most come hands, you want the probable bettor to your left so the other llayers in the hand might call that bettor's single bet and then be invited to call your raise.

Chapter 15 - Slowplaying

For: monster-hand, beaten second-best opponent

Against: large pot, free-card might make opponent beat you

Chapter 16 - Loose and Tight Play

In a loose game you must tighten up on your bluffs and semi-bluffs, but loosen up on you legitimate hands. In a tight game you loosen up on your bluffs and semi-bluffs, but you must tighten up your legitimate hand requirements.

Chapter 17 - Position

Last is best.

Chapter 18 - Bluffing

The odds against a bluff's working increase almost geometrically with each extra person in a pot. Therefore, it is rarely correct to try to bluff out two or more players, especially on the end.

Chapter 19 - Game Theory and Bluffing

When using game theory to decide whether to bluff, you must decide the pot odds your opponent is getting if you bet and then randomly bluff in such a way that the odds against your bluffing are identical to or almost identical to your opponent's pot odds.

When using gaming theory to decide whether to call a possible bluff - assuming your hand can beat only a bluff and assuming your judgment doesn't give you a hint - you must determine the odds your opponent is getting on a bluff. Make the ratio of your calls to your folds the same as those odds.

Chapter 20 - Inducing and Stopping Bluffs

You should normally induce a bluff against players who already bluff too much and stop bluffs against players who already bluff too little.

You try to induce a bluff by showing weakness on an earlier round; you stop a bluff by showing strength on an earlier round.

When you induce a bluff, you plan to call if your opponent bets since you have increased the chances he is bluffing. When you stop a bluff, you plan to fold if your opponent bets since you have reduces or even completely eliminated the chances he is bluffing.

Chapter 21 - Heads-Up on the End

A bluff does not tend to work as often in second position as it might in first position.

Chapter 22 - Reading Hands

Reading hands should be done by induction based on how the opponent plays each move.

Chapter 23 - The Psychology of Poker

Against week players the best strategy is to play your cards in a basic, straightforward way.

Chapter 24 - Analysing at the Table

In hold'em, any time an opponent bets, calls, or raises, good players ask, "What could my opponent have done that with?"