Watching Arsenal is not all that different from playing poker, with a similar level of excitement and apprehension of the unexpected.
During a poker game, you’re keeping an eye on your opponents; trying to figure out what they’re going to do next and how they’ll react to your decisions. Football is very much the same, with visitors to the Emirates needing to understand the tactics employed by the Gunners.
Also, when all is said and done, a game can turn on a moment of sheer luck just as much as it can good judgement. Whilst football and poker are both games of skill, they can both be affected by lady luck.
There is also a certain skill set needed for both games; different attributes lead to different types of player and tactics. It’s why some footballers move into poker after they finish playing, which is something a When Saturday Comes article explains former Arsenal man Glenn Helder did.
So, let’s take a look at what attributes current Arsenal players have and how they might be successful in poker.
Luiz joined the Gunners in the summer for a fee reported to be around £8m. For a Brazilian international that seems a good deal, but with Luiz there’s always an air of the unpredictable.
He’s flamboyant but has a mistake or two in him. You never quite know with the wild-haired defender what he’s going to do, and unpredictability is a key strength for a poker play.
The game is all about reading the opponent and knowing their tells. With a player such as Luiz, who often doesn’t know what he’s going to do next himself, reading his moves would be very hard indeed.
Martinelli is a name unfamiliar to many football fans, but he’s young and up and coming. His performance against Nottingham Forest earlier in the season highlighted his huge potential, but yet his ability is not clear for all to see.
That means he’s flying under the radar a little and again, he’d be hard to read in poker. He’s the young upstart at the table, all swagger and confidence but with no previous experience for people to judge him on.
The unknown quantity element would be a strong attribute to have in a high stakes game.
23-year-old Ceballos is on loan from Real Madrid and has already made quite an impression at the club as a dedicated figure on the training field.
Football, like poker, is something players can work at and improve on. Those who are new to the game of poker can hone their skills before playing at competitive tables. New players can now find inspiration from a vast well of sources with partypoker providing advice on the rules and tactics of Texas Hold’em that aim to get new players up to speed as quick as possible.
Similarly, a footballer can take to the training field every day to hone their skills and develop new ones as well, which is where a focused individual like Ceballos would thrive.
Mesut Ozil is a tactician and a craftsman, a player who has made just as many goals as he’s scored during his time in the red of Arsenal.
He’s a thinking man’s footballer, someone who can act instinctively and who was once described as a low-key genius by the Telegraph. Foresight and quick thinking are two very important attributes for a poker player.
You need to be reactive to sudden changes in the game, but also be able to think one step ahead of your opponent. The German schemer has shown those exact skills over the course of his Gunners’ career.