play tricks on
play a trick (on one)
1. To carry out a trick, deception, or practical joke (against one). It turns out that the supposed alien visitors that people had been seeing were just a bunch of teenagers playing tricks on the entire town. I've got a great plan to play a trick on the school for April Fools' Day. The fake article had been in print in the renowned scientific journal for more than a week before the author revealed that he was playing a trick when he decided to submit it.
2. Of one's sense organs, to present one with false or misleading information. I thought I saw someone looking at us through the window, but my eyes must have been playing a trick on me. A: "Did you say something to me?" B: "Nope. Your ears must be playing tricks on you."
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
play tricks on someone
1. Lit. to pull pranks on someone. You had better not play any tricks on me! Stop playing tricks on people!
2. Fig. [for something, such as the eyes] to deceive someone. Did I see him fall down or are my eyes playing tricks on me? My brain is playing tricks on me. I can't remember a word you said.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.