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Turn Card Definition

The Turn Community Card - Fourth Street

by Jesse Knight
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Turn Card
Turn -
1. The fourth community card in a flop game.
2. The betting round that follows delivery of the turn card.


Flop games are one of the three main categories of poker games. The other two are stud poker and draw poker. Flop games include Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Crazy Pineapple. These games use a combination of hole cards, which are each player’s private cards, and community cards, which are cards displayed face up on the table, for all players to use. You form a hand by combining your hole cards with the community cards to make your best five card poker hand. The hole cards are dealt at the beginning of the hand. A round of betting follows, and then the community cards are delivered by the dealer in three stages, with a round of betting after each. The community cards are displayed face up in the middle of the table, and are called, collectively, “the board.” The first community cards dealt consists of three cards, delivered all at once, and is called “the flop.” After the betting on the flop is concluded, the dealer delivers a single community card called the “turn” card After a round of betting, the dealer delivers the final community card called the “river” card. A final round of betting and a showdown conclude the hand. The betting rounds are referred to by the community cards they coincide with. They are typically described as “before the flop” (or “preflop”), “on the flop,” “on the turn,” and “on the river.” There is a substantial amount of poker strategy and game theory which is dedicated to optimizing play on each betting round. The turn is a particularly important betting round for a number of reasons; including the fact the bet size typically doubles on the turn.

The betting in limit poker is structured so that the bet amounts are fixed, but there are two sizes of bets, a small bet and a big bet. The big bet is typically twice as much as the small bet, and these bets define the stakes of the game. A $3/$6 Hold’em game, for example, would have a $3 small bet and a $6 big bet. The small bet is used on the preflop and flop betting rounds, and the big bet is used on the turn and the river. The doubling of the bet size on the turn is good for the game, and allows the bettor to maintain leverage when betting the turn and the river. To understand why, you need to understand how pot odds impact a player’s ability to call.

Before the preflop betting round, the pot is very small. It consists only of the blinds, which usually equals roughly one and one half small bets. This means that the first person to call is getting 1 ½ to 1 on his money, or pot odds of 1 ½ to 1. Now that the first player has called, the pot has grown by one bet. This means that the next player to call is now getting pot odds of roughly 2 ½ to 1. As the pot grows, pot odds increase. But knowing what the pot odds are is not helpful unless you have an idea about what level the pot odds need to reach to warrant a call. Players must reconcile the pot odds that they are getting with both the cost of proceeding on in the hand as well as with their perception of how likely they are to win the pot. Put more simply, when deciding whether a call is profitable in the long run, a player has three main concerns. They need to know how much it costs to proceed (the bet size), how much they can win (the pot size), and how likely they are to win (their outs). If the pot size multiplied by their probability of winning is greater than the size of the bet, they have pot odds and should call.

The dynamics of pot odds is actually what gives the bettor leverage when betting. By betting, he is forcing his opponents to evaluate whether a call is worthwhile, which they will often do by engaging in pot odds analysis. If a call is not worth it, his opponents will muck. Sometimes it is obvious whether a call is worthwhile, but often it is not. This is a crucial point. If it were always obvious what the correct course of action was, everybody would act in exactly the same way, and there would be no game. The ambiguity about whether or not a call is correct is what makes poker a thinking person’s game, and a game of skill. The fact that different people come to different conclusions about how to proceed is what creates the game of poker as we know it.

So we have established that it is a good thing for the game that the players are often unsure about whether or not they should call. The double sized bet on the turn preserves this ambiguity throughout the course of the hand. If the size of the bet did not double on the turn, it would lead to far fewer decisions about the appropriateness of a call, and many more automatic calls all the way. This is because the pot size continues to grow as the hand proceeds, and the size of the bet also need to grow to preserve the bettors leverage.

The doubling of the bet size on the turn impacts the action in other ways as well. Because of the bet size doubling, players tend to commit far more money on the turn and the river than they do preflop and on the flop. This makes the turn a point of commitment, so that if you call on the turn, it is often correct to call on the river as well. The turn is also an ideal spot to check and take a free card after a continuation bet, or to check raise with a strong hand.

Usage: Check The Turn, Turned A Spade, Blank On The Turn

Previous Poker Term: Trips
Next Poker Term: Under the Gun

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