Many truckers are fond of card games like poker, which is why the truck-stop casinos are very popular for their video poker machines. In Louisiana, for instance, businesses still surged for nearly 200 truck-stop casinos, which are mostly located near major highways. Despite the coronavirus restrictions in the state, where these venues are capped at 50% capacity, revenue from video poker machines was up by 30% in mid-2020.
It’s not at all surprising that most truckers enjoy a good poker game. As a diversion for long days on the road, poker is mentally stimulating. Winning requires strategic thinking and strong observation skills — so poker has a lot to teach us about life. Truckers can even learn how to be a better driver from poker. Here are some lessons poker can teach us:
Manage your emotions
Tilt is a poker phenomenon when you play poorly due to emotional distress, usually anger. Often, emotional tilt destabilizes players and prevents them from making optimal decisions. When emotions are running high, players are more prone to risk-taking and impulsive behavior, leading to more losses. In driving terms, tilt sounds like road rage.
For both poker and driving, it’s essential to keep your emotions in check. Even though it’s hard, truckers should learn not to take the actions of other drivers personally. When you’re feeling your emotions rise, take deep breaths and stay calm — it’s not worth escalating a small thing into a potential accident. It’s also good to check in with yourself emotionally every now and then, to control ‘tilting’ on the road.
Respect smaller players on the road
Truck drivers tend to fall into a sense of cockiness, especially when they’re fresh out of training. Driving a truck can make you feel very confident and powerful, and truckers let that go to their heads, resulting in on-the-road bullying of other drivers. Honking, blocking, tailgating, and other intimidating behaviors lead to a poor image of the entire trucking industry.
In common poker terms, we call this ‘angle shooting’ — which refers to certain actions that are either flat out against the rules or ethically frowned upon by poker players. Often, unscrupulous players would target inexperienced opponents with unfair methods and take advantage of their lack of know-how. Whether you’re on the felt or on the road, aggressive actions are a no-no. Be courteous to other drivers, and don’t be a road bully.
Keep yourself organized
One interesting concept that emerged with online poker is multi-tabling, where you participate and play in multiple tables simultaneously. Skilled players do this to enjoy faster games and maximize their profit per hour. However, multi-tabling requires a lot of practice and mental organization. Many players advise newbies to master one table first, before handling five at once, as it can easily get hectic and confusing.
Trucking is likewise a job that requires you to multitask and think of several things at the same time. You need to manage yourself, maintain your vehicle, keep an eye on the timetable, handle paperwork, track expenses, calculate traffic time, and bear in mind the rules of the road. Proper organization makes a huge difference so you can efficiently accomplish your job.
Play it safe
To be a great poker player, you will need to know your limits and take only the risks you can afford. It’s important for poker players to master managing their bankrolls and their tendencies to tilt — things that even professionals still struggle with. Rookie truckers similarly learn to play it safe over time. At the beginning, you’re likely to flout safety practice to meet deadlines or neglect your own health because you’re so busy.
However, drivers are responsible for their own safety, their truck, and their cargo. Veteran truckers know they share a duty with fellow drivers to keep roads and highways safe for all. Some beginner semi-truck driving habits to unlearn include speeding, not paying attention to road signs, and not taking breaks. Being careful, even if it takes more time, ensures you reach your destination safely.