play (one's) cards right

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play (one's) cards right

To act adeptly and with good judgment; to make the best and most effective use of the resources at one's disposal. The bosses have been impressed with your work so far. If you keep playing your cards right, you could see a promotion inside of a year. I'm really hoping Janet will agree to go on a second date, but I'll have to play my cards right tonight!
See also: card, play, right