By Karaoke Phil
While driving I have noticed at least two things that directly remind me of, or come from, poker. The first I noticed several years ago and is a direct result of having picked up the game. I took the concentration and “following the action” of poker and began to directly apply that to my freeway driving. Instead of looking two or maybe three cars ahead of me I began to actively look at the vehicles as far ahead of me as I could. A single car tapped its brakes a quarter mile ahead of me – is that a slippery spot? Is there debris in that lane? Better pay attention to that area as I approach. Several drivers are braking in close succession to each other – is there a state trooper up there? Better check my speed and throttled back a little right now. I found that my poker play seemed to actively raise my paying attention to my surroundings. At the table I’m watching the other players – how are they acting, what are they doing, when and….. why? I took that analysis to other areas of the my life – most noticeably on the freeway.
I also (a little later) noticed one other item. Drivers like to “float the flop” – a lot. In poker, players don’t respect the position raise. If it’s folded around to you on-the-button and you bump it up, you will usually get a call. That’s regardless of the cards you hold. The perception is that you’re trying to steal the blinds. So, the big blind will often call – float the flop, looking to steal the pot back from you after the cards hit the board. But, if the flop looks too bad a poker player may abandoned that plan, check, and then fold to a continuation bet. Drivers seem to do something similar.
You see, I love cruise control. Speed limit is 60? I’ll set it for 66 and just cruuuisse. It’s usually not a problem until you encounter the guy who isn’t on cruise control and is going 57. That is he’s going 57 until you move into the left lane to begin passing him. Suddenly, he’s going 60. Then he’s going 64. Now you’re just about even with him and, voila, he’s up to 66. Drivers seem to view getting passed as a “position play” – and, they don’t respect it. So, they miraculously find the accelerator and won’t let you actually get ahead of them. They “float the flop” to see if you really want to pass them or are just “stealing the pot” so to speak. And, like the out of position player who doesn’t like the board when the flop comes down – and, subsequently abandons the hand – drivers do the same thing. Bump your speed up to 70 just long enough to get ahead of the “slow poke” and move back into the right lane and then look in your rear view mirror. You know what you’ll see? A driver abandoning the pot. One who is now going – you guessed it – 57 mph. Really? In poker there’s a reason to sometimes do this. But, you just can’t allow yourself to be passed on the freeway without a fight? I’d love to get you onto the poker tables.