play cards right
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Related to play cards right: play one's cards right
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. Primarily heard in US. 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! That's the last time you play hooky, mister! From now on, I'm dropping you off at school every morning!
play one's cards rightand play one's cards well
Fig. to work or negotiate correctly and skillfully. If you play your cards right, you can get whatever you want. She didn't play her cards well, and she ended up with something less than what she wanted.