play by (one's) rules

play by (one's) rules

To adhere to the rules, strictures, or conditions imposed by someone. If you want to write for this paper, kid, you're going to have to play by my rules! I love working in advertising, but I hated playing by such a large corporation's rules, so I broke off and set up my own company.
See also: by, play, rule

play by somebody’s ˈrules

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play by your own ˈrules

if somebody plays by their own rules or makes other people play by their rules, they set the conditions for doing business or having a relationship: If we want to win this contract, we’re going to have to play by their rules for a while.
See also: by, play, rule