To wreck or damage something: That will play the deuce with his election chances (1834+)
- Play the fool
Act in a silly or stupid way, as in Helen deliberately played the fool so they wouldn’t realize she understood their strategy. [ First half of 1500s ]
- Play the heavy
Act the part of a villain; take the blame for unkind behavior. For example, She can’t bear firing an employee, so she relies on Jim to play the heavy. This colloquial term comes from the theater, where heavy has been used for a stern, serious role or that of a villain since the early 1800s.
- Play the market
Trade in securities in order to make money, as in He is always playing the market with only mixed results. This term uses play in the sense of “gamble,” a usage dating from about 1500.
- Play the ponies
verb phrase To bet on horse races (1908+)