have a plan or asset that is kept secret until it is needed – British
Related Idioms :
get your cards
be dismissed from your employment - British informal
Cards are the national insurance card and other documents relating to an employee that are retained by the employer during the period that the employee works for them.
Give someone their cards means make someone redundant.
hold all the cards
be in the strongest or most advantageous position.
keep your cards close to your chest = keep your cards close to your vest
be extremely secretive and cautious about something - informal
The previous two idioms both refer to a hand of cards in a card game. If you hold all the cards you have a winning hand, while card players who hold their cards close to their bodies ensure that no opponent can look at them.
mark someone's card
give someone information - informal
on the cards
possible or likely
This phrase, a North American variant of which is in the cards, probably refers to the practice of using playing cards or tarot cards to foretell the future.
play the card
exploit the specified issue or idea mentioned, especially for political advantage
This expression comes from the view expressed in 1886 by Lord Randolph Churchill that, concerning Irish Home Rule, the Orange card would be the one to play.
1998 - Edinburgh Student - The SNP, who dominate the Scottish independence campaign, argue that they do not play the race card.
play your cards right
make the best use of your assets and opportunities.
put your cards on the table = lay your cards on the table
be completely open and honest in declaring your resources, intentions or attitude.