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to put on one's trumps
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Trump \Trump\, n. [A corruption of triumph, F. triomphe. See Triumph, and cf. Trump a trumpet.] 1. A winning card; one of a particular suit (usually determined by chance for each deal) any card of which takes any card of the other suits. [1913 Webster] 2. An old game with cards, nearly the same as whist; -- called also ruff. --Decker. [1913 Webster] 3. A good fellow; an excellent person. [Slang] [1913 Webster] Alfred is a trump, I think you say. --Thackeray. [1913 Webster] To put to one's trumps, or To put on one's trumps, to force to the last expedient, or to the utmost exertion. [1913 Webster] But when kings come so low as to fawn upon philosophy, which before they neither valued nor understood, it is a sign that fails not, they are then put to their last trump. --Milton. [1913 Webster] Put the housekeeper to her trumps to accommodate them. --W. Irving. [1913 Webster]