Review: Sklansky on Poker

3 Star, 5 Star, Book Reviews

May 26, 2008

Author: David Sklansky

Publisher: 2+2 Publishing

Sklansky on Poker is a little known 2+2 book. It started life as Sklansky on Razz. Only one problem – no one plays razz anymore except for the occasional HORSE game and a few medium stakes online games. So what 2+2 did is take the orginal text, tack some essays by Sklansky on the front, take razz out of the title, and voila – a new book for the 21st century.

You’ll notice that I gave this book two different star ratings. That’s not a mistake. The 5-star rating is for the essays. The 3-star rating is for the old Sklansky on Razz text.

The essays contained in this book are simply put excellent. In fact, they are in essence a continuation of Theory of Poker. I’m starting to see a pattern in 2+2 books here – whenever Sklansky writes something by himself, it’s good. Whenever any of the other 2+2 authors (Miller, Malmuth, Zee) get a say, it’s not so good. This isn’t a huge surprise – I’ve played with Sklansky, Miller, and Malmuth and Sklansky was the only one of the three that seemed to be particularly skilled.

That said, there are several essays in this book that the reader would be wise to pay particular attention to: ‘Have a Plan’, ‘All Errors Are Not Created Equal’, ‘The protected Pot’, ‘Going For The Overcall’, ‘Saving The Last Bet’ and ‘Extra Outs’ are all very good poker thinking. Togeather these essays are much like those in Improve Your Poker which is one of my favorite texts on the game.

The razz section of the book is not quite as good. Like many of the 2+2 game-specific manuals, it just reads strangely. As Sklnasky points out, razz is not a difficult game. In fact, it requires about the least skill of any component of HORSE (Omaha 8 would be the other candidate). Given the rarity of razz, most players will come to this book late in their study of the game and by the time they get to that point much of what is discussed within will seem obvious. Sklansky also seems to play in somewhat of an unusual style, with an excessive emphasis put on deceptive play. Some of this is OK, but I think he comes across a little strong on that front. Most razz opponents, then as now, make simple basic errors that anyone with a decent grasp of the odds of lowball can exploit. Deception is often counterproductive in that case.

If razz were still a commonly spread game, and one players might learn as a first or second game, this book would have more value. But times have moved on, and most people by the time they get to it will already understand the concepts contained within. Hence only 3 stars.

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