The Turn and River - More Real Money But Not Many More Cards!
Reading the page "Why are the first two cards critical in real money Texas Hold Em poker?" we saw how the flop - where the first three community cards are dealt all at once - can often make or break a hand. Unlike Seven Card Stud poker where a player only sees one additional card before having to stump up more money into the pot, Texas Hold Em players are in a unique position of being able to see not one but three cards that could possibly make up their own or an opponents hand before having to invest more of their own hard earned (or hard won!) real money into the pot. Whilst some players will have folded before getting to this stage, many others will at least stick around to see these three cards before deciding whether to continue with this particular hand.
The Turn and River are Where a Lot of Money is Lost
Those that do carry on after the flop though will suddenly find that the hand can start to get an awful lot more expensive.
For one thing, in Texas Hold Em the size of the initial bet doubles when it comes to the turn and the river betting rounds. So whilst it may only have cost you $5 to see the flop, it will now cost you $10 to bet or call, and even more if somebody decides to raise on the round.
Secondly, there will probably be at least one player who has been buoyed by the flop and now believes they have a good chance of winning the pot, and so are likely to raise. This can either be a blessing or a curse, largely dependent upon what two personal cards a player has. If they have strong cards themselves which have also been boosted by the flop, an opponent raising will create a larger pot, especially if there are quite a few players still left in the game who also feel that they too have a chance of winning and so call or even re-raise rather than folding. Alternatively if the player has two starting cards which have not been helped by the flop either at all or only slightly, then continuing will often be a hiding to nothing as they contribute more money to the pot but are unlikely to win it, unless they are particularly good at bluffing and/or calling out an opponent who was also trying to bluff after the flop by betting or raising.
Thirdly, for the turn and the fiver, the fourth and fifth community cards dealt respectively, there is a round of betting like before but this time a player only has one additional card to help them in their cause rather than the three that were produced on the flop, so in this case they are likely to contribute the same amount of money after getting one card to help them rather than three.
And lastly, by the time the turn and the river come about there is a fair chance that only the player and one other opponent remains. In this case, when only two players are left contesting the pot, there is usually no limit to the number of raises and re-raises permitted (make sure you establish this rule beforehand if you are playing in a friendly home poker game!). If two players have a genuine belief that they will win the pot then the two can begin putting a lot of real money into the pot as they raise and counter-raise, trying to get the other to put in more money which they believe they will take off them soon, and is why even low limit Texas Hold Em poker games can soon reach extremely high limits if this goes on for a while before one player eventually calls or goes all-in and a showdown and reveal is forced.
Unless you are particularly adept at bluffing then, or have a strong belief that an opponent is bluffing, it is wise to only proceed through the turn and river if the flop fits your starting cards and places you in a strong position in terms of making a winning poker hand to take the pot, otherwise you may find you lose a lot of your chips on an endeavour which you will afterwards be kicking yourself for much of the night. It can also play on your mind and affect your judgement for subsequent rounds, either because you are distracted or you are trying to chase your losses. In either case, chances are you will end up losing your stack of chips.