play hell with (so/sth) definition
and play the devil with (so/sth)
play the devil with
Upset, ruin, make a mess of, as in This weather plays the devil with my aching joints, or Wine stains play the devil with a white tablecloth. This allusion to diabolical mischief is heard more in Britain than in America. [Mid-1500s] Also see the synonym play havoc.