When you first start playing poker, understanding the pre-flop and flop strategy is the most important step to learn. However, as you get a bit more experienced, learning what to do on the turn and the river is also necessary. The strategy here is a lot more complex, as there are far more variables to consider, but knowing what to do can mean the difference between winning the pot and narrowly missing out.
Pro poker players are experts in all areas of poker strategy, but the turn and the river are where they really make their money. This is often the area of the game that separates the good from the very good, with the best players seemingly always knowing the right move to make. If you enjoy watching poker tournaments in Las Vegas, you’ll be able to see how players react during this phase. Of course, even the best strategies can sometimes fail, as luck influences how poker is played. Still, if you want to be good, understanding the turn and the river is crucial.
What Are the Turn and River?
The turn is so-called due to its potential to turn bad luck into good luck, whereas the river can sell you down the river. The turn is sometimes referred to as ‘fourth street’ in Texas Hold ‘Em poker since it is the fourth community card to be dealt, while the river is sometimes referred to as ‘fifth street.’
After the flop, the first three community cards are dealt, and a second betting round ensues. This is then followed by the fourth community card, known as the turn. Because the turn brings in the fourth card, it can open up a lot of possibilities for that final five-card hand. After another betting round, the river is revealed with the fifth card, at which point, all players will know what hand they have,
At each stage of the game, it’s important for players to have a clear strategy that will take their cards, the community cards, and the potential cards of their opponents into consideration. Both the turn and the river will need to be played well in order to have consistent success while playing poker.
Playing the Turn
After the flop, poker players will make their decisions will be based on the card shown on the turn, as well as their own hand, how many opponents are left, and the size of the pot. At this point, players should consider whether they really have a strong enough hand to beat their opponent. You don’t have to have the strongest possible hand, but having a decent hand or being one card short can be enough to continue. That said, you should fold if you have a weak hand before you commit more of your chips to the pot.
Pro players use this opportunity to try and get a read on their opponents, as it’s usually a time when there’s a lot of deep thought going on. In addition, it’s important that players use this opportunity to extract as many chips as possible out of their opponents if they have a strong hand. If an opponent raises the bet, there’s a good chance they have a strong hand, and many pro players will fold if they come up against a raise here if the turn card doesn’t improve their hand.
Playing the River
The river is much simpler, as players know their hand and should also have a better idea of the hand their opponent is holding. If anyone is still left at this stage of the game, they either have a strong hand or bluffed their way this far.
At this stage of the game, the position of players around the table will make a difference to their strategy. For example, playing last, also known as playing in position, gives an advantage as they can assess their opponents better.
The player that has to go first, known as playing out of position, is at a disadvantage because they don’t know how their opponents will react. Players who are in position and have a strong hand will use this opportunity to place down some big bets, aiming to maximize potential winnings. However, pros will avoid raising the bet unless they’re certain they have the strongest hand. Raising the bet will either cause an opponent to fold if they have a worse hand or call if they have a stronger hand, leading to unnecessary risk and no advantage.