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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – David Sklansky

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

We have had many poker players in our “Where Are They Now” series that have made the game better and also more beatable because of their contributions.  However, the name David Sklansky, especially over the last thirty years, has become synonymous with the words “poker contributor.”   On top of being one of the biggest contributors to the game over the last three decades, he can also hold his own at the poker table, winning many top tournaments.  His mind for the game is considered one of the brightest, as he has come up with many ideas and theories that were originally introduced by him.  

Over the last year or two a number of rumors and accusations have popped up in the poker world in regards to the relationships he has with a few young women.  As I sat down to write this, I decided that I wouldn’t shed much light on these.  The main reason is because most of the information is only rumors or allegations, as many things are that are first reported on internet poker forums.  And you, the reader, are capable of searching forums and the internet, reading, and making your own decision.  Until anything is solidified it is this writer’s choice to focus on Sklansky’s factual contributions to the game.

David Sklansky was born in 1947 in Hackensack, NJ, and shortly after his birth his family moved to Teaneck, NJ, where Sklansky spent his childhood.  His father was a math professor at Columbia University, so Sklansky took a natural liking to mathematics at an early age.  Even as a young teenager he could see that math could help a person become a better poker player, and because he knew that he was able to make a nice income as a student from his fellow poker players.  However, Sklansky was focused on getting a good education more than gambling.  Sklansky was interested in business, so he applied and got into one of the best business schools in the USA, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Despite breezing along through classes, Sklansky dropped out of school just a year before graduating.  The culprit?  Gambling.  When Sklansky entered college, a fondness of poker he developed as a child became a love as a college student.  As the years of college went on, the more time Sklansky found himself skipping classes and playing poker.  When he wasn’t playing poker, he was studying poker, analyzing and creating new theories about the game.  

Even though he dropped out of college, he was still interested in business, particularly how businesses run.  Sklansky returned to Teaneck and passed a number of tests that allowed him to become an actuary.  In short, an actuary is someone who is responsible for determining the financial risk of businesses.  Basically, it was Sklansky’s job to find the best way for businesses to make money, and this of course required lots of things like theory and calculations which was right up his alley.  Preparing for his findings in poker, he also found a faster way to make calculations, which would save the business both time and money, and is believed to be the inventor of this calculation.  Exactly what that calculation is goes way over the head of yours truly.  

Sklansky wouldn’t keep his job as an actuary for long, as once again the calling of poker was too much.  He would quit his job, one at which he was doing quite well, to pursue a career as a professional poker player.

While Sklansky is best known as a poker player, he has at one time or another made a major portion of his income at various gambling games.  His constant need to learn more things led him to learn as much as he could about other games at the casino.  Sklansky has been able to make a living from blackjack, sports betting, and horses and is an expert on just about every game offered at a casino.

Sklansky made a name for himself in the tournament poker world shortly after becoming a resident of Las Vegas.  In February of 1979, Sklansky won first place in the very first major tournament he ever placed in, the razz tournament at Armarillo Slim’s Tournament of Poker, which at the time was the second most popular tournament series behind the World Series of Poker.

Sklansky would make his mark in the WSOP in 1982.  Sklansky placed in two tournaments that year, both earning him bracelets.  The first bracelet came in the $800 Mixed Doubles Event with partner Dani Kelly.  The second came in the $1,000 Draw High Tournament.  The following year he won his third, and to this point last, bracelet in the $1000 Limit Omaha event.  In just five years Sklansky had won four major events in four different types of poker.  It’s easy to see why he is one of the best teachers in all of poker.

Despite great results in tournament action, Sklansky stopped playing them in 1991 to pursue other gambling games and writing.  Also, he started enjoying the freedom playing cash games gave him.  It was during this break that Sklansky wrote a handful of the 13 books he has authored or co-authored.  His most famous book, “The Theory of Poker,” was actually published in 1989.  This book is considered one of the original, and best “math poker books.”  Despite being a brilliant man, Sklansky has drawn rave reviews as a writer because of the easy to read style he brings to very difficult topics.  One of his more recent titles is “No Limit Hold’em: Theory and Practice.”

Like a lot of the players from a younger generation, the “Poker Boom” brought Sklansky back to the world of tournament poker.  His first year back saw him earn a 5th place finish in the 2001 $1000 Limit Omaha event.  While he has been unable to secure his fourth WSOP bracelet, he has placed in 10 events since 2001 and has placed in a total of 21 for his career.  The biggest cash of Sklansky’s career came in September of 2006 when he finished in 3rd place at the 2006 Borgata Open, hosted by the World Poker Tour, earning $419,040.

Currently Sklansky is a regular contributor to the website and poker community.  He is also a casino consultant, with his latest contribution being to help develop the new video poker game called “World Poker Tour All-In Hold’em,” which is now in most major casinos.

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