Why Wenger Would Be Good At Poker

As an Arsenal fan, you’ll know that the club – based in Holloway, North London – has competed in numerous national and international competitions. The club’s goalscoring record is held by Thierry Henry. The French football player has scored 228 goals in total. The Paris-born footballer soared past the record previously held by Ian Wright who scored 185 goals.

Back in August French football manager, Wenger, sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United for £24million. Many Arsenal fans (and some non-Arsenal fans) thought the move was a foolish one, but whether the team lost their best player or not, they certainly got a good price for him. Sir Alex Ferguson was the first to recognize this. According to Ferguson this was helped by Wengers’s superb haggling technique.

Ferguson said ‘he (Wenger) could run a poker school in Govan.” (In case you didn’t know, Govan is the part of Glasgow that Sir Alex hails from). Great managers probably don’t have the time to be playing poker, but people like Sir Alex could still learn something from poker players when hoping to get a good bargain in the transfer window.

Wenger is nicknamed “Le Professeur” by his fans and the media today. This name is thought to reflect his studious demeanour. The Strasbourg – born football coach is known for always being on the look out for young talent. He tries to develop a youth system, where his clubs train young players rather than buying expensive, experienced ones.

In France, the highest decoration is called the Légion d’Honneur which Wenger was awarded in 2002. In addition, Wenger and fellow Frenchman Gérard Houllier were both awarded honorary OBEs for their services to football. Let’s see how poker and football draw similarities.

Poker face
This is the quality that Sir Alex remarked on: the ability to keep a poker face and keep your emotions under your hat. Anyone hoping to bid for or sell a player shouldn’t let the opposite party know quite what they are thinking. This goes for both negative and positive emotions. Not only didn’t Wenger not give the game away by getting excited that he was getting a better price than he’d expected, but even more skillfully, he managed to do it without annoying Sir Alex who said that negotiations were ‘amicable’

Poker is all about calculating odds, and transferring players should involve similar calculations. So many football club owners (if not the managers themselves) allow matters of prestige, ego and status to dictate their decisions. This is not what football should be about – you’re buying a player who can bring something to your team, not just a big name who will get people talking. It is important to figure out if this player is a worthwhile addition to your team, not merely if they will keep on popping up in the papers with their WAG at the latest West End event. As with calculating the value of your poker hand, do the maths.

Bring enough cash to the table
When playing no-limit poker, it’s imperative that you have enough chips otherwise you’ll be bullied off the table by those that do. The Footballosopher blog makes the very good point that success in managing a Premier League team is based on very strong economic factors – ie your wage bill. It is telling that as the Aresenal’s fortunes have declined, so has their wage bill in proportion to the other top flyte teams. It is even possible to see Wenger as doing much better than average when we consider the money he has at his disposal.

This best poker players have built up their skills through playing the game, but also by reading books on poker tactics and discussing them with others. The Gunner’s manager Arsene Wenger is also a man who has a very clear tactical vision for his team and he possesses the mental toughness to carry it through. He has a Batchelors Degree in Engineering and a Masters Degree in Economics and likes to think things through. It is telling that Arsenal are one of the few teams to make money from transfers, by intelligently selling the talents they have trained up over the years.

It is possible to make the case that Wenger manages the Arsenal transfers like a poker pro, playing his cards with cool precision and skill. He may be out-gunned financially by the likes of Chelsea or the Manchesters, but the team are still doing quite nicely thank you very much all things considered. It seems like it will be a long time before Govan sees Wenger turn up to start his poker school, in the mean time we have the benefit of watching his skills being applied to buying and selling footballers.

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