playing the game

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Senior Member

Does "playing the game" have a different meaning here? Is it something peculiar to fishing? Seems like all he does is to wait patiently, but...

He lowered the tip and began winding the reel, keeping just enough tension on the line, and was struck again by how strong fish were, no matter their size. They were all muscle. But he played the game, knowing the fish would eventually tire.

Feeling another tug on the line, he played the game, timed it right, and set the hook.

Source: Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s not a term confined to fishing. It just means he’s doing things in the conventional, time-honoured way — the implication here being that he’s doing what the fish expects of him, the two of them figuratively playing a game.


    Senior Member
    US English
    It's the "the game" part I don't recognize; "to play a fish" means to alternate reeling in and releasing the line to weaken the fish while not putting so much strain on the line that it breaks. (Unless "the game" refers to the fish, like animals and birds, which I doubt.)
    Last edited:
    Any procedure can be called a game. "I was trying to seduce my friend's sister by showing a great interest in whales, animals she adores, but she caught onto the game." {figured out what was going on}

    Merriam Webster online:

    2a : a procedure or strategy for gaining an end : tactic

    b : an illegal or shady scheme or maneuver : racket
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