hold all the cards

hold (all) the cards

To be in a position of power or control over someone or something else. The phrase alludes to having the best cards in a card game (which would lead to victory). Now that Charlotte knows about us, she holds all the cards—I imagine it won't be long until she tells my wife what she saw. I saw my brother break the vase, so I hold the cards right now and can get him to do anything I want.
See also: card, hold

hold all the cards

be in the strongest or most advantageous position.
See also: all, card, hold
References in classic literature ?
You see that we hold all the cards, and we have only to fear some sudden act of violence on their part.
What is their motivation to restore power here when they already hold all the cards in Westminster?
MATT PRIOR last night insisted England hold all the cards as second Test crunch time beckons.
"There is so little product that sellers typically hold all the cards and leave buyers with razor thin margins.
Live Premiership Football Sky Sports 1, 11.30am Most TV pundits seem to be coming round to the idea that Arsenal hold all the cards as regards this year's Premiership.
Then why not 'hold all the cards' this Christmas and say happy Christmas to your friends and colleagues instead - and donate the money you would have spent on cards to ChildLine Midlands?
Congress now officially belongs to the Republicans, who seem at a glance to hold all the cards. For the first time in 48 years, they control both the Senate and the House of Representatives while one of their own is about to take the oath as President.