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The Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How To Think Like One Paperback – Illustrated, July 1, 1999
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About the Author
More recently, David has been doing consulting work for casinos, Internet gaming sites, and gaming device companies. He has recently invented several games, soon to appear in casinos.
David attributes his standing in the gambling community to three things:
1. The fact that he presents his ideas as simply as possible (sometimes with Mason Malmuth) even though these ideas frequently involve concepts that are deep, subtle, and not to be found elsewhere.
2. The fact that the things he says and writes can be counted on to be accurate.
3. The fact that to this day a large portion of his income is still derived from gambling (usually poker, but occasionally blackjack, sports betting, horses, video games, casino promotions, or casino tournaments).
Thus, those who depend on Davids advice know that he still depends on it himself.
- Publisher : Two Plus Two Publishing; 4th edition (July 1, 1999)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 316 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1880685000
- ISBN-13 : 978-1880685006
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #22,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Mrs. Nayler, like me, is a poker player but she hadn't taken the game as seriously as I had. Until now. I recently asked her if she would be willing to read a few poker books and she agreed. This is the first book I am having her read.
Super Systems, while revolutionary at its time, feels like it was written when poker was played very differently. Do you play online video games competitively? You've probably noticed that some videos teach you certain strategies, but then eventually, they update the video game and the strategies chage. That's exactly what happened in Super System. Note, if you play poker in a small city that doesn't have an obsessed card players' or casino scene: Las Vegas, Macau, etc, Playing as described in Super System will still make you a winner since the reality is that most poker players are losing in the long run, and the majority don't actually bother to read a book, watch strategy videos, or be part of the scene. You can still get Super System 1 or 2 for its historical value and for the info on the other games since it covers more than just Hold'em.
The Theory of poker, does withstand time since, as it mentions in its tittle, it talks theory. As funny as it sounds, a lot of old strategy books are outdated--since they tell you to play specific ways which were correct when they were written. People adapt and play differently, thus we call them outdated-- but the poker books that cover: theory, math, and mental game topics, are still relevant.
If you want to jump into the game and understand what is going on at a deeper level, buy The Theory of Poker. You will be able to follow move by move, talk about poker, and it will be the fundamentals you need to move further.
Out of the 3 most popular poker books on print of all time--as of 2020: Super System, The Theory of Poker, and Harrington on Hold'em (The tournament book), The Theory of Poker is THE BOOK I believe everyone that every competitive (not recreational) poker player HAS in his or her bookshelf
Note, Harrington on Hold'em is a great book with tons of examples where you'll want to take notes. I recommend it for tournament players, but I can imagine some people won't have it in their book shelves since it was meant for tournaments, and cash game and other format players play way differently in cash games than in tournaments. Buy it as well if you plan to try tournaments, it has many problems and solutions, but be aware, some strategies are outdated, but the thought process and rationale he used in making decisions is solid and you can always add notes to the book on how some strategies have evolved from what Harrington used to do.
That said, I persevered and now I think about poker in a completely different way. I always thought it was a game of chance and reading people, but boy was I wrong. He taught me to see it as a game of odds, just like any other casino game. When you are deciding if you should call, fold, or raise, he shows you that the decision should be made based on numbers: what are the odds you will make your hand (based on what else is showing and how many cards are left); what is the ratio of the call/bet to the money in the pot; what are the odds your opponents will bluff; and so on. This may be obvious to the advanced player, but I'm pretty confident beginners gloss over this most important fact. You have to look at poker as a long game of odds, and not a short game of hands.
So he starts with describing how the odds work and how to play according to those odds, and then he starts getting into the variations - the times when "playing by the rules" isn't actually the correct play to maximize long term gain. This includes bluffing, semi-bluffing, your position in the play order, how your opponents play, and so on. Much of it is logical once you think about it, but may not occur to you otherwise (if you're like me, anyway).
I have two criticisms, however. There is an amazing amount of knowledge in this book - each chapter is filled with "what to do in this situation" tips. So much so that it's easy to get lost ("But in the last chapter you said this..."). I wish that there was a compendium of tips, sort of like the magic card for blackjack. Distill the text down into bullet points that can be easy to refer back to after understanding the text.
Second, he often glazes over the logic and strings together multiple tactics at once in his examples. For example, he'll say something like "You think your opponent has the best hand and the pot odds are 3:4, so obviously you should do X" (not quoted verbatim). Well, it's not obvious every time really. I have to stop reading at that point, try to remember what I just read two pages ago, and combine that with what I read two days and 40 pages ago. You can get there for sure, but it would be nice if he gave a little more of the "why" during the examples.
Otherwise the book is easy to read in tone and is a great wealth of information for people looking to take their game to the next level.
Top reviews from other countries
But the lessons and theories detailed in this book are applicable across the board. It is a detailed overview in fundamentals, hand reading, bluffing, position etc. and brings an awareness to the level of thinking and attention to detail that is required to do well.
Worth a read for novice players but I doubt it would provide any useful insight to more experienced players.
Even I, who have never played poker, could have done a better job than this.