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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

play one's cards right

 and 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.
See also: card, play, right
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

play one's cards right

Make good use of one's resources or strategies, as in She played her cards right and got a promotion. [Mid-1700s]
See also: card, play, right
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

play your cards right

mainly BRITISH
If you play your cards right, you use your skills to do what is needed in order to succeed. Soon, if she played her cards right, she would be head of the London office. He was convinced he could actually win the election provided that he played his cards right. Note: The reference here is to a player in a card game who can win the game if they use their cards well enough.
See also: card, play, right
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

play your cards right

make the best use of your assets and opportunities.
See also: card, play, right
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

play your ˈcards right

(informal) deal successfully with a particular situation so that you achieve some advantage or something that you want: If you play your cards right you could get promotion in a year or two.
See also: card, play, right
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

play one's cards right/well, to

To make the most advantageous use of one’s opportunities. Card-playing was popular in England from the mid-sixteenth century on, and terms from card games soon began to be transferred to other activities. This one appeared in print in Samuel Foote’s The Englishman in Paris (1753): “If Lucinda plays her cards well, we have not much to fear.” Whist, the antecedent of modern bridge, involves, with each hand dealt and bid, a suit that is designated as “trumps” (unless no-trumps is bid). For that hand, trump cards outrank all others. From this we have to play a trump card, meaning to make a winning move. Charles Lamb, who wrote extensively about whist between 1820 and 1829 (for London Magazine), was among the first to transfer trumps to mean any winning advantage: “Martin, if dirt were trumps, what hands you would hold!”
See also: card, play, right, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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