the cards/odds are stacked against somebody/something

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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

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 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.
References in periodicals archive ?
In this first episode, the odds are stacked against Noel and his team as a golden retriever puppy with horrific facial injuries is brought into the practice, and a man drives all the way from Switzerland in search of a successful treatment for a chihuahua.
MK DONS 0 ROTHERHAM 4 Derbyshire 1, Best pen 17, Broadfoot 54, Smallwood 79 MK DONS boss Karl Robinson stopped short of conceding his side were condemned to relegation after this damaging defeat by Rotherham, but conceded "the odds are stacked against us".
I am aware that the odds are stacked against me locating her.
For one thing, it turns the old rules upside down: that crossing over requires giving up the original way of doing things, that the odds are stacked against those who try, and that it takes years of toil and perseverance, even for the super sexy, cool, and talented.
Craig Brown knows the odds are stacked against his side but Aberdeen are also putting together a nice little sequence of results.
The odds are stacked against Leeds - the hosts are 6-1 to win the match and 7-2 with Ladbrokes and Bet365 to qualify for the last 16 - but that was also the case two seasons ago when Simon Grayson's underdogs stunned the Old Trafford giants with a memorable FA Cup success.
When the odds are stacked against you it is usual for all 15 players of a touring side to stick together and be motivated to perform above themselves, he said.
You've got to say the odds are stacked against us but I never ever go into any game thinking about damage limitation.
All the odds are stacked against Arsenal in their Champions League showdown with the reigning European champions, Barcelona.
When the odds are stacked against you, and by God are the odds heavily stacked against
Today, the odds are stacked against a widowed waitress buying a home, much less sending three kids to college.
Peace is a dream for us believers, but the odds are stacked against us.
But after only a short spell serving on it, he's given up, feeling the odds are stacked against ordinary people objecting to applications to extend pub hours.
But the odds are stacked against the protesters after planning officers recommended that council- lors agree to the mast at Lea Mills in St George's Road.
Saturday's other main fixture, at Newcastle, is looking increasingly doubtful with clerk of the course James Armstrong admitting that the odds are stacked against them.