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Poker face

[ 2010-03-10 16:53]     字号 [] [] []  
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Poker face

Reader's question: Dems counting cards on health care; Oberstar shows his poker face Jim Oberstar has his poker face on. He can't read my poker face. Could you explain “poker face”?

My comments:

Poker face is the face players wear in the game of poker, or so it is supposed.

If you play the game of poker, you understand it’s important to keep a calm face whether you’ve drawn a good hand or bad. If you can’t keep your composure, that is, grinning from ear to ear every time you’ve got a winning hand or sighing pitiably if you have a handful of small cards, you will tip your opponents off, hence ruining your own chances of winning.

That’s why players try to maintain a “poker face” throughout the game, whether they’ve got all the trump cards or none. In gambling, that poker face is crucial.

So, poker face is…?

An expressionless face, from which your opponents can’t discern your true emotions.

In other words, a poker faced person doesn’t wear their emotions on the sleeve.

The New York Times (Poker-Faced Diplomat, Negroponte Is Poised for Role as Spy Chief, March 29, 2005), for instance, thus describes John D. Negroponte, former Deputy Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence:

Over the years, Mr. Negroponte has developed a reputation as a poker-faced diplomat who never betrays his personal views. If he harbored doubts before the war in Iraq, he never let it show, said Paul Heinbecker, who was Canadian ambassador to the United Nations at the time. “He didn’t expose whether he thought the position of his country was 100 percent sound, 90 percent sound or 20 percent sound,” Mr. Heinbecker said. “He’s very much the United States’ representative.”

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Go to Zhang Xin's column


About the author:

Zhang Xin has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.