A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, David Sklansky is living proof that college is not the only path to success. Despite dropping out of the University of Pennsylvania, David Sklansky had a knack for statistics that enabled him to pass official examination by the Society of Actuaries and land a well-paying job as an actuary.
Sklansky didn’t keep his desk job for very long, though, and soon left to become a professional gambler where his skills in statistics could, apparently, earn him much more.
One of the key experiences that motivated Sklansky to leave his desk job involved Sklansky taking an innovative calculation method that would increase his firm’s efficiency. Sklansky’s then-boss refused to implement the innovations or even discuss them with other workers.
Sklansky reportedly disliked this so much that it stuck with him as a motivator during his poker games. In multiple retellings of this story, Sklansky has stated that he enjoys the fact that innovations and superior knowledge of poker and other games results in immediate and tangible rewards.
Sklansky’s passion for gambling began in his youth. While studying at the University of Pennsylvania, Sklansky would often skip official classes to spend time playing poker with his classmates, dissecting, recording, and looking to improve each game that they played. After dropping out of college and quitting his job, he had almost immediate success playing poker.
Sklansky’s first major wins netted him thousands of dollars. Shortly afterwards, he won three World Series of Poker bracelets, two in 1982 and one in 1983. The 1982 wins totaled almost $25 thousand, and his 1983 wins were over $25 thousand. His wins continued until the early 1990s, at which point he chose to stop playing tournaments and instead focus on private games.
At the same time as his exit from the tournament world, Sklansky began writing books and articles about gambling and poker, often working with other professionals such as Mason Malmuth. His books reached critical success and are now considered to be fundamentals for aspiring professionals.
The popularity of Sklansky’s books led to casinos and gambling companies seeking him out as a consultant. David Sklansky built a reputation as a skilled consultant and even helped design new games for casinos looking for fresh offerings for their clients.
Sklansky found a renewed interest in the tournament scene during the early 2000s. His winnings this time around were even greater than before, with his highest win being in 2006. In 2006, while playing in the WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic, he scored a third-place finish with the total winnings being $419,040. This was his highest placement in a poker tournament so far.
As of his current standings on the Global Poker Index, David Sklansky has won over $1.3 million in live tournaments. His private game winnings totals are unknown, but given his reputation it is likely to be a considerable sum. Sklansky has continued playing live tournaments to this day.
As of the creation of this article, his latest major win was on the 20th of June, 2017 at the 48th World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He placed 13th in Event #40 with winnings of $7,287, a sum considerably higher than any of his recorded events since 2011.
David Sklansky has published multiple books through Mason Malmuth’s Two Plus Two Publishing Company, which is a respected publisher of books teaching new or inexperienced players how to play like pros.
Two Plus Two also maintains one of the largest online poker communities in the world, which David Sklansky’s work has helped influence and cultivate. He also holds the record for the first mass-market poker book ever published which was his 1976 book “Hold’em Poker.”