All my life I seem to have been behind the eight ball. Always struggling just to get to the next day. Hoping to get dealt the hand in life that gives me the Royal Flush, even though I’m playing with a weak hand.

Early on in life I decided I was going to play even if I was just limping into the game of life. I realized that my hands were going to suck but I had to play them in order to get ahead.

Eventually, I would catch a straight or a full house and advance to the next level. But, time and time again I would get crushed by a better hand. My last article discussed my ability to lose and lose well. 

But, you can’t win or lose if you don’t play.

I’ve found that what we are chasing, what I am chasing many times in life is EVEN. Chasing the esoteric thing of being able to sit at the same table as everyone else. To be on a level playing field, so that eventually I can get ahead. If I’m even, maybe I can play a riskier hand in life in order to advance. We always hear the saying; there is no reward without risk. But, if you are always just chasing even what is there to risk?  Falling deeper into the abyss of what we know as life? Well, yes and no.

You see, growing up poor and always fighting and scratching to get ahead most of my life is the hand I was dealt. I was already behind. My good friend Ryan Blair wrote the book Nothing to Lose Everything to Gainand the title speaks for itself. When you are the short stack in life and less than even with society, you have nothing to lose if you play. What’s the worst thing that can happen?  You get put deeper into the hole of life?

But, what if you win?  What if you play the cards you are dealt?  What if you decided to call down society to the river and catch that straight you were looking for?

Now, if you aren’t a poker player, some of these terms may seem unfamiliar to you. But I’m sure you get it. Most of us most of the time are going to get suboptimal cards dealt to us. But, we have to play them so that we can get to even. Then eventually, and it may take years, if you continue to play this game of life you will not only get to even, you may find yourself sitting at the final table. Once you are there, you have already won. Now you just need to decide if you will remain at the table, get knocked out early or become the champion.

But, you will only get to the final table if you play in the game we call life.


Michael Alden, a graduate of Suffolk Law School and a three-time Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Seller, is from Beverly, MA.  He has contributed to Forbes, Huffington Post, CNBC and, Entrepreneur, and was awarded Boston’s 40 Under 40 Award.  To learn more about Michael Alden, visit  You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @MikeAlden2012