Visceral contrast. The first words evoke visions of grandeur -- the hoisting of the trophy, the victory lap, the acceptance speech. The second summon images of destitution, arrest, pitifulness, squalor.
The truth is, there isn't much separating those that experience the thrill of victory and those that suffer from the agony of defeat. Very often, making the "right decision" gets the "wrong result" -- and vice versa. There is a a healthy dose of luck and good timing associated with nearly every success story.
I've often theorized that if I could go back in time and change any ten river cards for any poker player in history, I could change a "lifetime loser" into one of the world's biggest winners, and I could change the world's biggest lifetime winners into penniless losers.
The 9 of clubs making a flush instead of the 3 of hearts -- a whiff. A King on the river for the Ace-King to beat pocket Queens.
It wouldn't take much and it wouldn't be all that difficult to pick the "key hands" that reverse the course of history. Enough early bad beats in a career and there is no doubt many of the greatest players would be broke and out of the game. The supremely talented player that suffered just a few too many "bubbles" early on and went broke before his talent could see him through? He'd be wearing the World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet. No problem.
When all the money is in the middle and the river card has yet to be dealt, the outcome is out of your control. If you avoid taking the bad beat, everyone thinks you are a genius. If you get a little unlucky, it is the "loser" tag. Very few will know that you had way the best of it. Very few will care. All that will be reported and remembered is the "result" -- the winners and the losers. That is very unfortunate.