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Overplay your hand

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 09, 2007

In Reply to: Overplay your hand posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 08, 2007

: : I am looking for the origin and meaning of the phrase "overplay your hand"

: It's a card-playing term. In a game such as whist or bridge every player is dealt a "hand" of cards at the beginning of the game and must decide how best to "play their hand", i.e. how to use their cards to maximum advantage. If you err on the side of overconfidence, and try to win tricks that your hand really isn't good enough to win, and lose as a result, you are said to have
overplayed your hand. (VSD)

And from here it is no great leap to the figurative use. If you are trying to score in some arena other than a card game, you are still figuratively trying to do the best you can with the hand you have been dealt, or with the cards in your hand. THose would be your assets and advantages, whatever they may be. Play them right and you will perhaps win whatever advantage or score you were looking for. If you attribute to them greater potency than they have and become overconfident you may end up in the dust, having overplayed your hand.