The meaning of “poker face” refers to someone’s stoic facial expression at the poker table. Sitting across from another player gives us two major sources of information: betting and behavioral information. We learn a lot from how our opponents play their hands, but we also pick up information from body language and expressions.

Having a consistent poker face is one way to keep your emotions a mystery. Experienced live poker players pay careful attention to every area of body language, including gestures, speech, and even breathing.

A couple of poker pros renowned for having outstanding poker faces are Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey. They are great examples of players with consistent body language and unrevealing poker faces.

Patrik Antonius drains all emotion from his face during poker hands

Poker faces became a meme too. The term popped up in a song by Lady Gaga, which then got remixed by Cartman from South Park. It also seems to be the inspiration for a not-so-great movie starring Russel Crowe and Liam Hemsworth.

We’re going to talk about why a real poker face is vital and how to improve yours.

Your cards slide across the table and you take a peek. It’s the best starting hand in poker; two red aces! Most people get excited in this situation and perceptive opponents will notice the sudden change. At the professional level, players are hyper-aware of their body language, but recreational players have a lot of “tells” (visual signs or indicators).

If you don’t have a good poker face, then opponents can use your expressions against you. You might be telegraphing your feelings about the hand and the community cards. You don’t want your opponents to have any clue as to when you are strong or weak.

Choose a facial expression that is natural and relaxed. The main aspects of a great poker face are consistency and routine. Whether you’re dealt 2-7 or pocket aces, your face and body language should be the same.

Phil Ivey is another pro player with great control over his body language

Nobody sits at a poker table for hours without smiling and socializing. Be yourself outside of the hands, because live poker is a social game. When you have cards, bring yourself back into your routine.

What happens if your opponent asks you a question? During a hand of live poker, talking with opponents is not a recommended strategy. It works for some experienced players and it makes for great Youtube content, but it’s a big risk. Your voice and facial expressions are hard to manage sometimes. Every word you speak during a hand is free information for other players. It’s acceptable to remain silent during a poker hand, you are not under pressure to answer questions or speak. If the dealer asks you a question, that’s when you should speak.

More Movements To Think About At The Poker Table

There are movements we can’t avoid during a hand of live poker. When you’re peeking at your cards, checking, betting, or any other actions, you’ve got to keep everything consistent. There’s no textbook on poker tells, but even something small like glancing down at your chip stack can give information away.

Shuffling chips, an arm on the shoulder; whatever you do, be consistent
  • Check the same way every time, with a consistent hand movement. Avoid verbally announcing a check, unless you plan to do it often.
  • Bet and move poker chips with similar motions every time.

Our gaze can sometimes betray our feelings too. It’s common to see poker players wearing dark or mirrored sunglasses for this reason.

A poker face is important for live poker at casinos, but you can also use it online with your friends. There are ways to use your webcam and play poker with friends, for free (play money) or using real money.

PokerStars has Home Game tables with built-in webcam features for some countries. All you need to do is set up a PokerStars Home Game and send the invites. Everyone can play for free by switching to Play Money, but you can also use real money. The real money stakes for Home Games start at $0.01/$0.02 and go to $0.50/$1. It’s easy to arrange cash games and tournaments in a range of formats, like Texas hold ‘em, Omaha, and almost 20 other types of poker.

You get to use PokerStars software with friends, for free or with real money

You can get everybody together on Zoom or Skype if your poker site doesn’t have a webcam feature. 888poker and partypoker let you create your club and invite friends to your games without any extra fees. You’ll be able to play the same way that you usually do, but now you’ll be sitting with friends. Connect your webcam and remember to keep your poker face consistent.

  • 888poker has higher cash game stakes than PokerStars, with a maximum of $5/$10.
  • partypoker has similar cash game stakes, from $0.01/$0.02 to $1/$2.

We’ve got a full guide on playing poker with friends online. We covered major poker sites and poker clubs that let you choose who you play with.

The song by Lady Gaga uses the term perfectly. The singer suggested that Poker Face was a reference to covering up her true identity, similar to what you need to do during poker hands. She also eluded that she was looking for someone to read her poker face, which is something you can do to your poker opponents.

We can’t be sure how Lady Gaga felt about South Park remixing her song, but she probably wasn’t expecting it. The version with Cartman has basically the same lyrics, with a bit more silliness.