During any discussion comparing alphas and betas someone will point out that it seems arbitrary, that men are all on a scale. That is true; the level of alphaness of men is a straight line from zero to hero. The problem is that rewards to alphaness do not plot a straight line. This imbalance of rewards makes all the difference.
Nature never distributes rewards evenly in anything. Most of life has a Pareto or power law returns. These rewards can be any of the three pillars of alpha (in Roissy style: The three Ps, Power, Property, and Pussy).
The wealthiest 20 percent own vastly more than the next 20 percent. The most popular web pages gain vastly more readers than all the others. The most popular sports or entertainment stars gain vastly more attention than the rest. While I do not believe the 80/20 rule of sexual access is literally true, there is a huge gap between the most successful and the least successful.
Most probably think of the returns as looking like this:
Looking at the second graph makes it clear the difference between alpha and beta. The alpha group lives in a land of relative plenty. Even for most alphas there are those with more, but it not as if they are lacking any rewards. The beta group, on the other hand, battles over relative little. There is a vast difference between living in the land of plenty and the land of scarcity. Friendly rivalry aside, Bill Gates probably does not worry about how wealthy Warren Buffett is and Arnold Schwarzenegger probably does not worry about Tom Cruise. They live in the land of plenty; they may suffer setbacks but will likely be comfortable for the rest of their life.
The average beta guy lives in a land of scarcity. He may do better than his neighbors but a small set-back (health or job loss) could send him reeling. Even if he scrambles up that curve he might find he really is not that much better off because the real rewards come much further along.
Therefore, when men speak of being alpha they mean occupying the fast rising portion of the graph. It is true that we all live somewhere on a sequential scale but some are more sequel than others.