If you play your cards right

中国日报网 2013-04-02 11:11



If you play your cards right

Reader question:

People say: If you play your cards right... What does it mean?

My comments:

What it means is, if you play your cards right, you’ll probably win.

If you’re playing poker, you’ll know exactly what it means. “Play one’s cards right” is inspired from the game of poker, or any other card playing game. By asking you to play your cards right, they’re suggesting for instance that you, first and foremost, keep your cards to your chest lest opponents know what cards you’ve got. And you don’t use all your aces and trump cards (big cards) all at once, leaving smaller cards to fend for themselves later on.

In short, by playing our cards right, we’re (at least supposed to be) producing our cards in the right sequence, doing the right things, making no stupid mistakes.

This saying is prevalently used in other walks of life, or play, as well and it means the same thing – take advantage of your assets, avoid mistakes and put yourself in a position to win.

In card playing, everyone is dealt a hand (handful of cards) to begin with. Good or bad, your hand is what you’ve got. Therefore what you’re supposed to do is not bemoan what a bunch of poor cards you’ve got but to work out a strategy to get the most out of your cards.

In life, that’s the attitude one needs to cultivate, too. Instead of complaining about your misfortunes and disadvantages, such as not being born into a rich family, you should count your assets, such as good health, for instance, and start from there.

Count your assets and learn to count on them. That’s playing the right way.

But that’s just the beginning. You need to continue to play your cards right in order to succeed.

Well, no more ado from me, let’s see some examples of what it means for people to play their cards right:

1. The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass towards his friend and took up the other boldly.

‘Who knows?’ he said, as they lifted their glasses. ‘When you come next year I may have the pleasure of wishing long life and happiness to Mr and Mrs Ignatius Gallaher.’ Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively over the rim of his glass. When he had drunk he smacked his lips decisively, set down his glass and said:

‘No blooming fear of that, my boy. I’m going to have my fling first and see a bit of life and the world before I put my head in the sack − if I ever do.’

‘Some day you will,’ said Little Chandler calmly.

Ignatius Gallaher turned his orange tie and slate−blue eyes full upon his friend.

‘You think so?’ he said.

‘You'll put your head in the sack,’ repeated Little Chandler stoutly, ‘like everyone else if you can find the girl.’

He had slightly emphasized his tone, and he was aware that he had betrayed himself; but, though the colour had heightened in his cheek, he did not flinch from his friends’ gaze. Ignatius Gallaher watched him for a few moments and then said:

“If ever it occurs, you may bet your bottom dollar there'll be no mooning and spooning about it. I mean to marry money. She’ll have a good fat account at the bank or she won’t do for me.’

Little Chandler shook his head.

“Why, man alive,’ said Ignatius Gallaher, vehemently, ‘do you know what it is? I’ve only to say the word and tomorrow I can have the woman and the cash. You don’t believe it? Well, I know it. There are hundreds − what am I saying? − thousands of rich Germans and Jews, rotten with money, that’d only be too glad... You wait a while, my boy. See if I don’t play my cards properly. When I go about a thing I mean business, I tell you. You just wait.’

He tossed his glass to his mouth, finished his drink and laughed loudly. Then he looked thoughtfully before him and said in a calmer tone:

‘But I’m in no hurry. They can wait. I don’t fancy tying myself up to one woman, you know.’

- A Little Cloud, Dubliners, James Joyce.

2. When I pocketed my first driver’s licence, in Vancouver in the ’80s, Bruce Springsteen’s paeans to the highways ruled the airwaves (all those “Broken heroes on a last-chance power drive!”), Stephen King’s Christine was playing at the drive-ins (High-school geek falls in love with Haunted Homicidal Plymouth!) and cars, along with New Coke and Joe Camel, were being exuberantly marketed as a must-have gateway drug to full-fledged adulthood. All that hype had an impact: back then, my idea of a great summer vacation was a road trip down the I-5 to Tijuana in a gas-guzzling Oldsmobile — our version of On the Road, with punk rock on the cassette deck instead of jazz on the radio.

Car ownership promised popularity, independence from the overbearing ‘rents, and, if you played your cards right, a little back seat romance. Though I never owned a car myself, my closest friend slaved at three jobs to buy a ’66 Barracuda, and ended up having its logo tattooed on his bicep. Cars, simply put, were cool.

How times have changed. Among teenagers, driving to school in the family car now has far less cachet than showing up with the latest MP3 player, tablet, or smartphone. In the United States, less than a third of 16-year-olds now have drivers’ licenses, versus half in 1978, and across the continent, vehicle miles travelled, the most reliable measure of automobile dependence available, have been in free fall since the middle of last decade. Car sales are down 20 per cent from their peak in 2000, and the declines have been sharpest among the young, who, in recessionary times, can’t afford all the lures carmakers are so desperately dangling (“eco-friendly” hybrids, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and iPod docks). In poll after poll, the majority of young people say they would rather have Internet access or a data plan than a car of their own. En-masse, the largest demographic out there — the Millennials now outnumber the Boomers — are turning their backs on modernity’s ultimate consumer item: the private automobile.

When it comes to cars, the generational divide is profound, its roots deep. As author Alan Ehrenhalt observed in his book The Lost City, the children of the ’50s were educated in overcrowded classrooms and raised in tiny bungalows or open-plan ranch style homes, without much in the way of privacy.

“The baby boomers have never stopped looking for a little more room, or stopped believing that more space is somehow a good in itself.”

Eventually, this led to sprawled landscapes of Starter Castles and McMansions, accessed by freeways and off-ramps. Car companies, picking up on the generational predilection for “me-time” and “personal space,” cranked out ever-larger SUVs and minivans that doubled as private pods, complete with state-of-the art entertainment systems.

It’s now becoming clear, though, that many children of the Boomers view their parents’ housing and transportation choices as the emptiest of cul-de-sacs. As veteran automotive writer Michael Hagerty has observed about chauffeuring his now car-averse offspring around, “A lot of Millennials have got to be just plain sick of the things after spending 16 to 20 years with Suburbans strapped to their asses several hours a day being driven to and from school, shopping and activities.”

It’s no surprise that, when the same Millennials leave the ‘burbs for cities — as they are in ever increasing numbers — the last thing on their minds is impoverishing themselves with monthly payments on several tons of plastic, glass, and metal. Not when there are so many transportation alternatives available.

- Cars aren’t cool any more, By Taras Grescoe, August 20, 2012.

3. Next week after visiting the Middle East and without doubt, Iraq and Afghanistan, Barack Obama will be in Europe.

For the Democratic candidate, who is still favored in the polls, this high-risk tour must convince voters that he has the stuff of a President - at least as much as former Vietnam hero John McCain, who presents himself as an expert in foreign policy.

In Berlin, Paris and London, “Obamania” has taken hold of the public. The young Black senator has seen his popularity ratings on this side of the Atlantic soar, because he embodies, better than his opponent, a break with George W. Bush. He will be greeted with great warmth.

This capacity to restore the image of an America that wants so badly to be loved is an electoral asset. Provided, however, that is doesn’t go too far: criticizing his country at home is one thing, doing so from abroad is another.

McCain is on the lookout and Obama is not immune to a faux pas, like the one he committed in June when he declared that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel, before having to recognize that the issue could be settled only through negotiations with the Palestinians.

Before crossing the Atlantic, Obama prepared the ground. He knows that his views are often those of his European hosts. And this week, those views were clarified to appear more credible. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq he calls for was automatic and precipitated during the primaries. The same withdrawal is now mentioned with nuances and a degree of caution.

In Baghdad - if he is sincere - Obama should recognize that Bush's policy has finally achieved significant results. The troop surge of January 2007, when the Pentagon deployed 30,000 additional troops, has borne fruit. At the time, Barack Obama protested loudly while John McCain had reason to applaud.

Today, things are different. Paradoxically, the improvement on the ground benefits the Democratic candidate, since there are fewer issues in dispute. An early redeployment is no longer possible in Iraq, and everyone agrees that it’s on Afghanistan that America will have to focus - it is there that the war against terrorism will be won or lost.

On Iran, the same phenomenon occurs: Barack Obama didn’t have it wrong when he advocated dialogue, since even Bush has decided to send a senior envoy [William Burns] to the Geneva meeting [with Iran] today.

Therefore, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in their turn will receive a man who up to now - has played his cards right. Without prejudging the outcome of November 4, it's important that they present to him the picture of a united Europe, determined to help America, but also to assume its responsibilities in the world.

- Welcome Obama: A Man Who Has ‘Played His Cards Right’, WorldMeets.US, July 19, 2008.




About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



Tried and true

Time to connect the dots

These results do not square with expert predictions

Bad sport?

Cardinal rule?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)


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