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Jose Mourinho And The Poker Brain: Are There Similarities?

The one thing that you have to say about Jose Mourinho is that he is the absolute  masterwhen it comes to tactics  and sussing out what t...


The one thing that you have to say about Jose Mourinho is that he is the absolute masterwhen it comes to tactics and sussing out what the opponents are going to do with their approach to the game and the players they will use. His ability to not only identify his own strategy before the game, but also adapt it to correspond with what he sees going on with the opposition does mean that we can perhaps refer to him as having the same mindset as a poker player. 


Now, you may be wondering how on earth we can make that link, but let's look at the actual mindset of a poker player and see how the different aspects of the “poker brain” can then be applied to Jose. 

The Way Their Mind Thinks 

A top quality poker player is going to be brilliant at problem solving and paying attention to detail, and is also an expert at rational thinking. This is all because of the way in which they activate a certain part of the brain called the frontal lobe


Let’s turn our attention back to Jose and think about the way he reacts during a game, especially when various situations arise that are unexpected. 


Jose is renowned for taking notes and his ability to observe every little detail on the pitch. He is alos famous for his ability to spot tactical changes from the opposition early on. He knows if certain players are being man-marked, where space is being created, and of course, he makes those rational decisions as to who is playing poorly; all signs of somebody in control and able to handle all of those points mentioned above. 


In other words, Jose is the best at what he does because of his ability to solve problems, focus on the detail, and also think rationally - especially when he is under extreme pressure. 

There Is A Sense Of Discipline 

Any top poker player is going to have to be disciplined in how they act during a game as well as in their preparation. They must be patient and bide their time so that they make the correct decisions when it matters the most. 

They need to be able to spend some time looking at the current outcomes of their decisions and know how to then best change things to get a better end result, but they have to accept that they need to time this correctly to avoid making life worse for themselves. 


Jose is certainly disciplined and patient, especially with the lead up to a game and his preparation. He is known for being meticulous in looking at the opposition and working his game around them and that is why he gets such good results. By being disciplined in this way, he can help to eliminate some of the variables that tend to occur in a game, but of course there is still more to it than this. 

Confidence Is Everything 



A good poker player is not only going to have confidence in their ability, but also in their decision making. They have absolute faith in what they are going to do and they will not stop and think twice about their decision due to that belief. 

This confidence has actually been shown to have a direct impact on the opposition and it is a prime example of how a name or reputation can play a role in how a game will proceed. Look at it this way: if you are up against a player that you know has a track record of winning, then most people are going to be intimidated. The outcome is that you would be more likely to be less prepared and even make more mistakes - and in a game of poker, that will often prove to be fatal. 

Going back to Jose, the one thing that is seriously not in any doubt is his confidence. However, he is quite right to be confident in his ability when you look at everything that he has achieved in his career and there is no doubt that this confidence rubs off not only on the players, but also with intimidating the opposition. 


His amazing record at Stamford Bridge has meant that it is now seen as being a fortress and that in itself tends to force the vast majority of teams to play a certain way. Jose then does of course know what to expect in advance, so he can orchestrate how the game will play out pretty much to perfection. 

There Is A Sense Of Level-Headedness



In order to get anywhere with the game of poker, you need to remain level headed at all times. It is important that you do not allow your successes to get to you and turn that confidence into arrogance. When this happens, it is amazing how often poker players will then crash and burn as they let their guard down. 

For Jose, there is a sense of him not losing his temper that much, or at least not to the extent of other managers. He is often the epitome of calmness even when others around him are losing their head. Although he has of course had one or two incidents, generally speaking he is a pretty laid back character. 

So, can we say that Jose is like a poker player? Well, there are real similarities when you look at the way in which his mind works. The calmness, the ability to cope with strategies and deal with problems, being able to look into the eye of his opponent and make the correct decision to basically win more often than he will lose, and the way in which his confidence strikes fear into others (which can often mean that he has won before the game has even begun).


We are not saying that you need to study the poker brain in order to become a top football manager, but having the same mindset certainly helps.

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