I just came across (pdf) this expression:
A Smith & Wesson beats a straight flush
What does it mean?
Is it the idea of winning via unlawful means when losing?
Is it a common expression?
This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. See the FAQ for guidance on how to improve it.
It means a gun will beat whatever you have in a poker game.
That is, if you have a pair of twos and the other person has a straight flush, it won't matter. You have a gun, and you can shoot the person.
Basically, the card game is irrelevant. If you have something powerful (gun, or a monopoly, or a dictatorship) then the rules that everyone is playing by do not apply to you.
|show 1 more comment|
Its exact meaning depends on the context. If you read the paper you link carefully the meaning is straightforward. It's an idiom of the "Main idea" for "ELEMENT #3: Rules" (page 5):
Thus, in this context it means that in business those with power can opt out of rule following and benefit from it. Or put differently: in business power is such that it allows for benefits by changing or breaking the rules.
The straight flush is the highest hand in poker: nothing beats it. The meaning intended here is, from the document itself: "In the marketplace, whichever party has the most power gets to make the rules."
Of course, that is also a prime example of argumentum ad baculum.