This is a discussion on Flop, Turn, River. Name history? within the online poker forums, in the General Poker section; Does it have some history behind it? Or it is just random words taken to describe action on the board?
This is what i found with some research but don't know if it is true or not:
Flop comes from the sound the three cards in succession make when they hit a felt Poker
table. The turn got its name because it can and will turn the tide of the hand. The “river” has nothing to do with the English word “river”. However, it originates from the French verb river, which means “to fix to sth.” or “to attach to sth.” The french root “river” is still common in the English word “rivet”, as in the phrase “to be riveted on/by sth.”. As the river in the Poker game is the final card, the deck is “fixed” then.
Ok, I found myself.
Originally the flop was called the turn and the turn was simply known as 4th street. Then the term flop came from the sound the dealer makes when he “flops” the first three cards. As this became colloquial, 4th street became known as the “turn”. While the river came from the Mississippi gambling riverboats on which poker was played in the 1800's. Sometimes cheaters would deal themselves an extra card after the hand was supposed to be complete. That would improve their own hand. If caught, they would often be thrown overboard, into the river.
Another version of river is one of the games on riverboats was called "up the river down the river". Final card became known as the river.
Or it came from "short stud". The seventh card was dealt facedown gave rise to its nickname, Down-the-River. Down-the-River was shortened to "the river".
If someone is interested... But it's all speculations.
Oh, did you know that poker started out as a game called poque (French) and that Southern US'ers on the riverboats were pronouncing it poh kuh? Another speculation...
One more story that says the origins of these terms come from riverboat gambling. The flop is just a term for throw down/open the hand, the turn was a phrase meaning to take a drink (liquid courage when playing for a big pot), and the river is the make or break card that can send you down the river if you lose.