Poker Face – Meaning & Definition

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Poker face is an idiom that has been around since the 1870s. We call it an idiom because its figurative meaning is widely used over the literal one. Keep reading to learn poker face’s definition and origin. I also share examples of how to properly use this idiomatic phrase in sentences.

What Does Poker Face Mean?

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A poker face is a noun that means a facial expression without emotions. When someone has a poker face, it means their facial expression is blank and hiding their real emotions. It’s also possible that the individual has genuinely neutral emotions.

Consider this example:

Person 1: I can’t tell if you’re angry or not about my mistake.

Person 2: I’m not. I’m actually excited about my trip tomorrow!

Person 1: You always have a poker face. You have the same blank expression when you’re happy and sad.

What Is the Origin of Poker Face?

The term poker face was coined in the 1870s. It was a strategy used by poker players to make other players think they are holding different cards. It’s when they have an emotionless expression.

This method is called a bluff. If the player has a strong hand, their opponents will not bet on themselves. They can also do this strategy with a weak hand. The player can still win money by making people believe that their cards are high.

Later, poker face migrated into more general contexts to mean impassive expression or a general lack of expression in any situation.

How Do You Use Poker Face in a Sentence?

Here are some examples of how you can use poker face in a sentence. Remember, it’s not just used in the card game poker with friends; it can also be used to describe someone who’s void of expression. 

  • It’s not hard to tell who has a poker face around our poker table on weekends. 
  • You need a good poker face if you’re going to play in poker tournaments.
  • I’m told I have a great poker face with every poker game I play.
  • All poker legends have the best poker face.
  • As Meghan performs her mock bow Harry’s body language goes into freeze mode. His facial expression becomes a poker face, which is a royal tradition when someone oversteps the mark. (Daily Mail)
  • Mastering a poker face and reading tells are important. If you learn to play poker well, you have a better chance of winning. (Analytics Insight)
  • Jones, who hasn’t displayed much of a poker face over the Patriots’ play-calling this season, shouldered much of the blame for not tackling the Raiders’ Jones in those critical seconds. (New York Post)
  • Mr. Laub said: “As soon as they started playing my mouth just fell open.” Mr Laub, who went on to perform in the hit musical Hair, said he was briefly introduced to Tina and Ike before the show and that she was “lovely” and he was “very serious” with a “poker face”. (Lincolnshire Live)
  • You may have met people who show no hint of emotion and play a game with a straight face. These are the people who triumph in a lot of situations. It is known as having a poker face. (Tech Story)

Poker Face Summary

Now you know how to use the idiom poker face in a sentence. Remember that this phrase refers to an expressionless face or a deadpan expression that does not show a person’s thoughts. It comes from the game of poker, where a player makes other players think they are holding different cards. What other idioms do you want to learn about?

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