Poker, life and fairness

I’ve been thinking a lot about the vicissitudes of life recently, and stupidly, I’ve also listened to a host of politicians chuntering on about “fairness” or being “fair”.  I play a lot of poker and I’ve come to the conclusion that poker in the form of  Texas Hold ‘Em is a perfect model of the human condition.

Hold ‘Em is a game that requires patience, judgement, courage to back your convictions, maths to understand the odds and the ability to “read” people. If you have all of those you should do well at poker. But sheer chance will always upset the apple cart. I’ve had Ace, Ace as a starting hand and been put all-in by a player with the Gay Waiter (Queen Three) five times now and lost every time. For non-poker players, AA is the best opening hand you can have and Q3 is weak so the odds were massively in my favour. Nevertheless, I lost to “bad beats” as the flop came QQ3 and a full house beats two pairs every time.

This mirrors life. We play the game with the hands we are dealt and use our skills to build our careers and personal life. Gurus tell us to work hard and be proactive “lone wolves” in charge of our destiny. But we aren’t in charge and never can be. Just as in poker, chance dictates our life from conception to the end. Be lucky, get good parents and you immediately have an advantage. Cross the road at the wrong time, don’t see a job advert, meet the wrong people or have a cell mutate and that good starting hand gets a bad beat. Patience, good life skills and low cunning will usually get you ahead of the game but won’t win it. Some get dealt the equivalent of 7,2 (the worst hand in poker) but get lucky and make the final table.

As in poker, nothing is certain in life apart from it is not fair. Anyone who tells you it is, or can be made to be, is either deluded or after your money….or both.


About ReidIvinsMedia

After working for many years in Higher Education I've decided to drop out and join the real world. Here I blog about my interests which include education, politics, backpacking, poker, photography and real ale.
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One Response to Poker, life and fairness

  1. lewismead says:

    This is a very good analogy, you can be the best player in the world but the cards can be against you in one hand and you’re out.

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