Life is a Card Game.

Saakshi Baheti
4 min read

There are many notions all over comparing life to a chess game; well, definitely, each move that you take in chess and life plays a pivotal role in the outcome. However, this comparison is just very unsettling.

Life and Card Games have incomplete information, as mentioned in the book Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke,

“Chess, for all its strategic complexity, isn’t a great model for decision-making in life, where most of our decisions involve hidden information and a much greater influence of luck.”

Moreover, at the beginning of a chess game, both the players have the same set of pieces to move, but in the game of life, not everyone has the same set of everything; people have different starts considering their health, wealth, parents, skills and more.

As Nehru wisely said, "Life is like a game of cards. The hand you're dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will."

Life is much like a deck of cards: it is unpredictable. From birth until our last breath, we play the cards we're dealt, facing challenges, making choices, and navigating the twists and turns that define our journey.


As we enter this world, it's as if the cards are being shuffled, and the dealer hands us our starting hand. Our family, environment, and circumstances become the foundation for the game of life. Just like in a game of Juttpatti, some players receive a great combination of pairs - promising early success. Yet, some players receive zero pair cards - not quite promising for success.


In the early years, our environment becomes the architect of our foundation cards. Education, rules, and values are established, shaping our path. It's during this period that we learn the art of action, reaction, and execution. It mirrors a game of Callbreak, where each player develops a distinct style. Some adopt an aggressive approach, leading with their best cards. Others play defensively, strategically holding back their prime spades for later. Meanwhile, a few engage in thoughtful analysis, strategizing moves by observing and anticipating their opponents, mostly aiming for the perfect call.

Joker Cards

As we enter adolescence, the game becomes more complex. Peer pressure, self-discovery, and societal expectations introduce the joker cards. These unexpected elements can either enhance our hand or throw us off course. Much like in the Marriage Card Game, the period before the revelation of the joker is distinct from the gameplay after the joker reveal. Once the joker cards are revealed, our perspective subtly shifts—we find ourselves subconsciously hoping for each choice card or the one discarded by the previous player to be a joker card. It's no longer just about creating sequences; it's about getting the joker, not only to finish the game but also to gain more points. Our journey, like this card game, involves adapting to the unexpected, searching for opportunities amidst uncertainties, and recognizing the game-changing moments that shape our story.

The Game of Strategy

In adulthood, life takes on the characteristics of a strategic card game. Career choices, relationships, and financial decisions require careful consideration. The ability to know when to play them and when to fold, is not defined just by luck, but is also a test of skill. Poker is a game where probability plays a pivotal role, life's decisions rotate on assessing the mindset of those around us. It involves knowing when to bluff, when to appear defeated. It is more of mind games, similar to the games we play in our 20s and 30s.

While skill is undoubtedly a key player, it would be naive to overlook the role of luck. In both life and poker, success often aligns with being in the right place at the right time. Just as in a poker game, some victories are achieved through skill, others through sheer luck, and some through a mysterious blend of both.


Just as in a card game where players may find themselves in a tight spot, midlife often prompts a reevaluation of one's hand. The midlife crisis becomes pivotal, challenging us to redefine our goals and rediscover our purpose. And how is that goal achieved? By analyzing everything in solitary. It’s the time of carefully untangling each cards of life and stacking them in proper order just as in the game of Solitaire.

Final Point

In the end, just as every card game concludes, life reaches its inevitable end. The last card is played, and the game is over. However, it's crucial to recognize that the final hand, or the last card, possesses the potential to be a game-changer. In the 29 Points Card Game, where the game actually revolves around 28 points, the last hand holds the key to that extra point.

Similarly, both in card games and life, many focus on playing their best cards in the beginning, overlooking the significance of the last hand. It serves as a reminder to appreciate and invest in the concluding moments, where the true impact of our choices and experiences can often unfold.

Life, like a deck of cards, unfolds through a series of hands, each representing a different stage filled with challenges and opportunities. Chess might not be the best comparison for the twists and turns of life, but card games definitely is.

“The decisions we make in our lives—in business, saving and spending, health and lifestyle choices, raising our children, and relationships—easily fit von Neumann’s definition of “real games.” They involve uncertainty, risk, and occasional deception, prominent elements in poker. Trouble follows when we treat life decisions as if they were chess decisions.” - Annie Duke, Thinking in Bets