lay one's cards on the table

lay (one's) cards on the table

To reveal something that one has kept hidden, such as one's motives, intentions, opinion, etc.; to be very candid. A reference to player in a card game revealing the cards that they were holding. You deserve honesty, so I'm going to lay my cards on the table: I can't offer you this job, but we may have another position that you'd be good for. Brian says he starts every relationship by laying his cards on the table—that way there's no secrets.
See also: card, lay, on, table

lay one's cards on the table

Also, put one's cards on the table. Be open and honest, reveal one's position or intentions, as in John laid his cards on the table and told her how much they could afford. This expression alludes to showing the hand one holds. [c. 1900] Also see show one's hand.
See also: card, lay, on, table