It’s not just while playing Blackjack that a Poker Face will help prevent other people “reading your mind” simply by looking at your face. But it’s often quite a difficult task to keep your poker face straight, so one good idea might be to play Blackjack in an online casino. Because there you can smile and look happy (or sad) when you check your cards, and nobody will ever know.
Why do we use the term ‘poker face’?
Where does this expression actually come from? Well, according to a dictionary definition, a poker face is: ‘An expressionless face that does not reveal a person’s thoughts.’ And as you might have guessed, it does come from card games such as blackjack or poker. These games are often played for real money, and a winning or losing strategy may depend on your ability to conceal the fact that you have a strong or weak hand from the other players in the game.
In such games, it’s often the case that someone with a poor hand of cards can still win the game just by bluffing. So if other players think you have a strong hand, you can still outwit them and win. It all depends on keeping that blank face and hiding your thoughts and emotions, so no one knows anything about your cards.
Practise your poker face
Here’s how to cultivate your poker face:
- The first step is always to relax your face. So completely clear your mind, stretch and wriggle your facial muscles, and take a deep breath to relax. Concealing your reactions puts you in control because no one knows what you think, or what you might do.
- Maintain eye contact. Looking people in the eye demonstrates you have nothing to hide, but they also won’t know what to expect from you.
- Blink from time to time, so that you don’t stare. Staring hard at your cards or looking into space may also blow your cover because it can look like you’re worried. However, too much blinking may suggest you’re nervous, so keep a proper balance.
- Keep your lips together and your jaw relaxed. Your mouth supports your facial muscles, so any smiling, frowning or tension will immediately affect the rest of your face. Stretch and relax your jaw by opening and closing your mouth several times. Try not to show your teeth, because that means moving your face. And never grind your teeth – it’s a sign of pressure.
- Always look straight ahead. Don’t peer out of the corner of your eye, because it means you’re hiding something. So practise minimal eye movement. Remember, even raising an eyebrow could give you away.
Watch your body language too
Did you know that only 7% of your communication is with words? The remaining 93% is non-verbal and consists of the tone and pitch of your voice (38%), your posture, facial expressions and the different hand gestures you use (55%).
So for instance in a job interview situation, or if you are asking the bank for an overdraft, you should always give some thought and preparation time to refining your body language. Otherwise, you may give away much more than you intend to reveal.
In terms of posture, you should sit up with your hands in your lap, but stay relaxed and use hand gestures (sparingly) to illustrate your points. Leaning slightly forward and nodding occasionally also shows your interest. If you need to tilt your head, again do so sparingly.
You should practise speaking slowly and pausing. Using a calm, controlled voice gives you a chance to breathe and stay calm. It’s OK to pause for a moment before answering a question. Sipping water from time to time will stop your mouth getting too dry. In an interview, it can also help to mirror the other person by taking your cue from their body language – but keep this subtle to avoid any sense you are simply copying them.
A poker face in public
Some celebrities seem to wear their own poker face, rather than a smile, even when they’re in the public eye:
- Kylie Jenner: Kylie is not often caught smiling these days. Perhaps it’s got something to do with Botox?
- Victoria Beckham: Though she’s a much-photographed fashionista, Victoria Beckham rarely cracks a smile – even during an interview.
- Lady Gaga: Staying true to her famous track ‘Poker Face’, Lady Gaga has little use for smiling in public.
- Johnny Depp: Our favourite Caribbean pirate Jack Sparrow (aka Johnny Depp) often seems to find a broad smile a really tough assignment.
- Eminem: Have you ever seen him smile? No? Then join the crowd!
- Jennifer Lopez: Yes, JLo is charming, but a smiler she ain’t!
- Jude Law: Jude Law can smile – but only when he’s on screen!
- Kate Moss: This beautiful model keeps a straight face on the catwalk, and in public too!