play (one) at (one's) own game

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play (one) at (one's) own game

To use another person's strengths, techniques, or tactics in an effort to gain an advantage. He's been running on a campaign of representing working class people, so we need to play him at his own game and expose all his business practices that exploit workers. Local independent shops need to start playing the big retail chains at their own game if they want to survive in this economy.
See also: game, own, play

play someone at their own game

If you play someone at their own game, you treat them in the same unfair or unpleasant way that they have been treating you. It used to annoy me when clients came in the office and my colleagues didn't introduce us. Now I play them at their own game and when my clients come and see me, I don't introduce them either. There's no point playing these people at their own game — you're never going to beat them.
See also: game, own, play