that's (just) the way it plays

that's (just) the way it plays

There is nothing we can do to change or prevent the way things have unfolded or will unfold; this is just the normal way things happen. Usually said of negative events or outcomes that are or seem unfair. A: "So you mean after nearly a year of hard work, all my profits are going to taxes? That's bull!" B: "Yep, but that's the way it plays." A: "I can't believe their little boy died of cancer." B: "I know, it's really awful. That's just the way it plays sometimes."
See also: play, way

the way it plays

in. the way it is; the way things are. The world is a rough place, and that’s the way it plays.
See also: play, way