cards are stacked against

the cards are stacked against (someone or something)

Someone or something is unlikely to be successful due to some existing circumstances, conditions, or obstacles that are likely to present difficulties. Tiffany wants to pursue a career in modeling, but she's only five feet tall, so the cards are stacked against her. The cards are stacked against their campaign, thanks to a lack of funding.
See also: card, stacked
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

cards are stacked against (one)

[informal] luck is against one. I have the worst luck. The cards are stacked against me all the time. How can I accomplish anything when the cards are stacked against me?
See also: card, stacked
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

cards are stacked against

Many difficulties face someone or something, as in The cards are stacked against the new highway project. This term originated in gambling, where to stack the cards or stack the deck means to arrange cards secretly and dishonestly in one's own favor or against one's opponent. [Mid-1800s]
See also: card, stacked
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

the cards/odds are stacked aˈgainst somebody/something

it is not likely that somebody/something will succeed, because they/it will have many problems or difficulties: The cards are stacked against this plan. The public are against it.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Grain companies claim the cards are stacked against them, so they have refused to participate in the process that was intended to make the grain transportation system more commercial, competitive and accountable.