Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Old Nick n.

also Nicky, old Nicholas
[? ref. to Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527), or abbr. SE iniquity]

1. [mid-17C+] the Devil.

2. [late 19C] (Anglo-Irish) the joker in a pack of cards.

3. [1920s] in fig. use.

In phrases

Old Nick’s footsteps (n.)

[1920s] (UK Und.) the broad arrows printed on convict uniforms during 19C/early 20C.

play old Nick (v.)

[late 19C] (Aus.) to act in a riotous manner.