The poker glossary is full of terminology that can be difficult for novices to assimilate. In poker, one of the most important moments is when the dealer, traditionally known as the croupier, makes the initial deal of cards.

During the course of games, it is common to hear talk about the cards on the pre-flop, how the flop plays out, what card comes out on the turn, and how important the river is to the resolution of the game. Those less experienced in poker will grasp what is more or less happening at the table, but will have no idea what it means. What exactly is the pre flop in poker, and what is the flop in poker? We tell you all about these fundamental parts in the development of a poker game.

Understanding poker concepts: pre flop, flop, turn and river

When you had no idea about poker and you have watched a televised tournament just out of curiosity, surely you did not understand anything when they started to mention concepts such as the flop, the turn or the river. What is the pre flop in poker? What is a flop in poker and why are not the same cards always dealt?

We are going to explain how a poker game is structured in its Texas Hold’Em variant, the most common. The dealer deals two hole cards to each player at the beginning of the game. This is the pre flop, the moment before the game in which only that pair of cards is received and the game is not opened. When the deal is finished, the flop automatically begins.

What is a flop in poker? Very simple: the dealer, after dealing two cards to each player and closing the pre flop, starts to deal community cards, this time face up. First, three of the five cards that make up this set of community cards are dealt. This is the answer to the recurring question of what is a flop in poker, and indicates the moment when the game opens. From here, each player will try to study the opponents based on their bets, their gestures and their way of reacting to try to identify the player profile of each one (from Loose Passive to Tight Aggressive).

At the end of the round, the turn begins. In the turn, the dealer adds a single card face up to the community cards, and the betting round is repeated, where each player is free to check, bet or fold. At the end of the betting, we move on to the river. What is the river in poker? It is the extra card, the last one, that the dealer adds to the community cards.

Is the flop or the river more important in poker?

Although many players insist that the pre flop in poker is the most important thing, in reality it is the river in poker that is the most decisive of all. The river is closely related to the concept of draw poker, which refers to the possibility of making a straight or even a straight flush, the highest hand.

However, many players wonder what exactly is the river in poker because it is a term that lends itself to confusion. Normally, in Omaha or Texas Hold’Em variants it is the term for the fifth and last community card, although some also use this term to refer to Seven Card Stud. In Texas Hold’Em and Omaha, the river can be the fifth community card or the fourth betting round.

How to play the river in poker

Despite the importance of the flop in poker, since it is the moment in which we start to discover and classify the game of each opponent, the general feeling is that the strategies in the river are the decisive ones because it is the moment before the showdown.

The game changes sensibly in this part of the game. During the pre flop and flop, the strategies are mostly based on making use of hands with more room for improvement and accumulating more pots if the hand we have is good enough, making what is known as “value bets”. But, at this point, the game changes and the data collected in the previous rounds must be taken into account.

The importance of the river is that it is the last attempt to understand the dynamics of the opponents’ game before the final confrontation. That is why many say that the river is the most important phase in poker.

At the moment we have not very strong plays, we should check the strength of the opponents by putting them on a hand. If they prove to be strong, do not try to bluff. But, if we are the ones who show strength and we detect that they think we are weak, then we can bluff. But keep an eye on the pot: the size of the final bet will be decisive in determining whether our bluff turns out well or badly.

Therefore, the idea is to bet the best hands and quit when we see that we do not have a strong enough hand. Bluffs should be reserved only when we see that they can be effective, and for very rare occasions when we are absolutely sure that they can be successful.