The Flop in Poker

Seeing the Flop - Hitting the Flop

by Jesse Knight


Poker Flop
Flop – The first three community cards in a flop style game.

The “flop” refers to the first series of community cards delivered in a “flop” game, which is also sometimes called a “community card” game because community cards are used. Community cards are cards that by rule may be shared among all active players. Players can then combine these cards with their own hole cards to complete their best five card poker hand.

In a flop game, a hand begins with the dealer delivering each player their hole cards, which will also be referred to as the starting hand. Players may then decide whether or not to continue on, based upon the strength of these cards. After the action on the initial betting round is complete, the dealer begins to deliver the community cards, which will be used for the remainder of the hand. The community cards are delivered in groups, which are named for the betting round that immediately follows their delivery. These are the flop, the turn, and the river.

The flop consists of three community cards, delivered all at once. The dealer counts off three cards from the top of the deck, and then displays them side by side in the middle of the table. The middle of the table, where all of the community cards are ultimately placed, is commonly referred to as the board. Since the flop consists of three cards, and since all players may share these cards, all players will have enough cards between their hole cards and the board, to form a five card poker hand subsequent to the delivery of the flop. Players may then use the remaining two community cards, the turn and the river, to try to improve their holding. The hand concludes after the action on the river card is complete.

In addition to the flop referring to the first three community cards delivered, it is also frequently used as a verb. If you make a pair by combining your hole cards with the flop, you have flopped a pair. Since you will have the ability to make a five card poker hand after the delivery of the flop, it is possible to flop any hand, given the right combination of cards. Of course, the cards that are present on the flop will have a big impact on potential hand strengths. Suited, congruous, or paired flops are particularly dangerous, because these types of flops often lead to very powerful completed hands.

There are several betting rounds over the course of a hand, and it is important that you try to play correctly on all of them. How well you play on the flop will have a big impact on your bottom line, for a number of reasons. First of all, the flop really defines the hand. Even though it may seem like the hand is just beginning with the flop, in reality the hand 5/7ths over after the flop occurs. There are only two community cards to come after the flop is delivered, the turn and the river. This makes both hitting the flop and getting a good read off the flop crucial. Missing a bet or a raise on the flop can very easily cost you the hand.

Players will use all manner of plays and gambits on the flop to try to improve their results. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the most common of these, so that you can recognize them and learn how to react effectively when you see them. One of the most frequent gambits you may encounter on the flop is called the free card play.

With the free card play, you raise your out of position opponent on the flop, in an attempt to scare them into checking the turn. This play works best when you have a strong draw, and you are up against an opponent who typically respects raises. If you can get your opponent to slow down and check the turn, you can then decide to bet, or not, based upon whether or not the turn card helps your hand. If you improve your hand, you can bet from a position of strength, into a pot that is larger because you had raised on the previous street. If you do not improve, and your opponent checks, you can then check behind them and take the free card, possibly avoiding putting money into the pot with the worst of it.

Usage: Hit The Flop, Flopped A Flush, Monster Flop, Flop Lag

Previous Poker Term: Floorman
Next Poker Term: Flop Games


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