What is a Poker Face? A Detailed Guide

When Lady Gaga released her hit song in 2009, the term ‘poker face’ was finally introduced to a broader audience, including people who literally know nothing about poker.

But, what is a poker face? Is it related to gambling or not?

Stay tuned to find out!

people playing poker

What Does the Poker Face Term Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a poker face is an inscrutable face that reveals no hint of a person’s thoughts or feelings”, a blank expression, essentially.

A poker face is an expression one makes in an effort to deceive other people regarding the actions they are taking in order to achieve a certain goal.

So what does this have to do with poker?

Psychology plays a crucial role in poker and knowing to read your opponents’ faces can help you win the game. Raising an eyebrow or moving your lips into the slightest smile can betray you. That’s why it’s essential to keep an expressionless face or, as they say, “a poker face”, so as not to reveal any crucial information about the cards you’re holding.

Another, similar term you might have come across is “bluff”, which can be explained as an attempt to trick the other players into believing that you are aiming for a certain action when in reality you’re doing the opposite. When it comes to poker, the bluff is usually used to deceive players that you hold certain, valuable or invaluable cards, depending on your goal, in order to make them act accordingly to your plan.

Read more: Best Poker Books

Origin of the Poker Face Expression

The phrase dates back to the 1870s, with its first appearance being in a book that explains the game of poker and gambling. It’s been widely used ever since. There is some assumption that the phrase was used even before that, however, no printed proof can be found to support it.

a person with a poker face while playing poker

Examples in Pop Culture

Let’s take a look at some popular uses of the term.

Poker face, a song by Lada Gaga, is the most famous pop-culture example of the poker face expression. The song’s meaning has nothing to do with the actual game of poker, however, the term is used in a similar manner. According to the artist, the song is describing a situation where she had to hold a poker face, in order for her true intentions to stay hidden.

However, the term has been used in the arts even before the 2009 hit by Lady Gaga. Let’s take a quick look at some other uses:

  • In 1997, Japanese singer released a song called Poker Face as part of her album Déjà-vu
  • Poker Face is also the name of a song released by Japanese artist Ayumi Hamasaki in 1998
  • In 2001, the Swollen Members released a song called Poker Face as part of their Bad Dreams album
  • The most recent popular usage of the term in music was in 2013 when Yui Horie released an album called Miss Monochrome, which contained a song called Poker Face

TV and Movies

  • There’s a British TV game show called “Poker Face”, where opponents need to bluff their way into various challenges in order to win £1 million.
  • There was also an episode called “Poker Face” in the popular TV drama “Grey’s Anatomy”, where the main protagonist was struggling to keep her personal issues to herself while at work, hence the use of the term.
  • There is a character in the SilverHawks series called Poker Face. The character operates a casino in the show and is a villain.
  • “Poker Face”, a movie directed by Russel Crowe is expected to be released later this year. The plot revolves around a high-stake game of poker.

Read more: Best Poker Movies

Finishing Up

We hope to have given you some insight regarding the term and to have finally answered your question. ‘What is a poker face’ is no longer a dilemma, thanks to our detailed guide.

Now that we’ve uncovered the mystery, you’re well equipped to use the expression to your advantage and increase your poker winning rates!


How to keep up a poker face?

Keep your face relaxed. Look at your opponent straight in the eyes. If you feel like you’re just staring at them, blink occasionally, but not too much, since excessive blinking can show signs of stress.

If you find all of this a bit too hard, you can wear sunglasses. That way, you won’t have to worry too much about how your face appears to the rest of the players.


Toni always had an appetite for learning new things and random facts about almost everything, which is why when he got offered the job to work as a content writer he took it without hesitation. Writing daily took his love for words and research to a whole new level, and made him realize that this is a career he would love to pursue. Although he spends most of his time researching his next piece, you can also find him on the football court, in the gym, or at home with a book in his hand.

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