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Poker Style: Poker Face

Poker face used to refer to someone’s physical expression during a live poker game, but in a digitally dominated world, poker face increasingly refers to your online persona. So while face-to-face poker players sport fashionable outfits, lucky charms, and sunglasses to supplement their physical poker face, they only have a still image and username for their online face.

Behind a screen with nothing but fake money and your pajamas, do you really have to worry about a poker face? You can bluff and bet with nothing to lose, exchange misspelled misnomers to fellow players, and yell aloud what cards you have.

But if there’s one thing Facebook and Notre Dame football player Manti Te’s Catfish scandal has taught us, it’s that an online face proves just as much or more significant than a physical face. If you didn’t document your thoughts, do they matter? If your relationship isn’t listed on Facebook, is it real? If you don’t have a profile picture, do you even exist? And can you ever know if the person behind the screen matches the face they select?

So if you’ve been underestimating the impact of your online poker face, it’s time you strategize what picture and username makes you seem the most enigmatic. The best part about an online poker face is that you can control it much easier than your physical face. No smile escaping your lips when the result of the flop gives you a straight or you’re wavering eye contact when you’re bluffing. You can truly set the face and pace for the game with your online poker face. That’s why many players opt for a faceless picture or even names in question marks, “??????????” These are the online equivalent of sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt.

But where’s the fun in playing with a group of faceless, nameless droids online? You could put up a picture of the celebrity you’re playing to psych them out, an image of President Barack Obama, or an innocuous landscape picture—whether you seek to intimidate, confuse, put at ease, or frustrate, you can completely control your online poker face when you play Hollywood Poker online.

Hollywood Poker may look like any other social poker game but the celebrities are real even if your online poker face is not. The game gives you the ability to create a custom poker face by using your Facebook profile picture. Further, you can buy the table gifts like a slice of pizza, martini, or even a kitty cat to make your poker face be as courteous or eyebrow-raising as you want. As soon as one table has you pegged, you can always switch tables for a fresh blank slate poker face.

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Valentine’s Day Poker Playlist

Everyone’s got an idea on how to win at poker and love. Some say it’s luck; some say it’s how you play the game; and still others blame it on the other players. Few facts can be nailed down about love and poker except that they’re both games worth winning. So if you’re deciding whether to call, fold, or bet on Valentine’s Day, listen to these songs to learn the rules of the game.

1) “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga

One of the best-selling singles of all time, Poker Face mixes infectious electropop with robotic undertones. Its uptempo beat and witty wordplay stick to your ears like bubble gum that’s difficult to stop chewing. Lady Gaga’s voice swims in with a breezy, cheeky tone—she’s confident not in the strength of her hand, but the strength in her strategy. That strategy has no formula: she taunts, teases, bluffs, kisses, hugs, hold’em sometimes fold’em: you can’t guess her next move or tell how she feels. That’s why Lady Gaga laced her voice in robotic undertones: it keeps her voice a tad neutral yet empowered.  So perhaps bluffing should be strategy, because according to Gaga Game Theory, “Baby when it’s love, if it’s not rough, it isn’t fun.”

2) “Lay Your Money Down” by Bread

Bread’s not having Lady Gaga’s constant bluffing. They demand the back-and-forth banter to stop and for their teasing woman to lay her money down. This upbeat soft-rock song insists, “I’ve waited long enough and this time I’m gonna call your bluff… Put your cards on the table. Gotta lay your money down. Show your heart if you’re able. Gotta lay your money down.” So if you follow this song’s approach to love, you could take a more direct approach and reveal how you feel. In poker terms, stop checking and go all-in already!

3) “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA

After all that bluffing and betting though, eventually someone loses. The singer of ABBA struggles with this resignation, as she thought by playing by the rules, she’d surely win. After all, she even had an Ace. But even when you have a strong hand, there’s always the chance someone else has a better one. Love’s a gamble and you have to play to win but be ready to lose.

4) “Desperado” by The Eagles

Sometimes there’s no getting around being dealt a weak hand. Sometimes a seemingly weak hand has potential, so you stick it in to see if you can line up a straight or pair. The song “Desperado” urges you to wait it out with the hand you’re dealt with the lyric, “Now it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table, but you only want the ones that you can’t get.” Same goes with love. Sometimes you may not feel an initial spark, but later feel fireworks after spending more time with someone. Spend that time with a hand or a person before you fold; you never know what you could win in the end.

5) “Loser” by The Grateful Dead

No matter how many times you’ve lost in poker and love, it’s hard to stop playing. You’re willing to gamble for the chance of winning again, because it’s worth it. Or perhaps, in The Grateful Dead’s case, it’s an addiction. The Grateful Dead roll in with a gravelly, self-assured voice and mellow guitars in this bluesy rock song. The singer asks Suzy for some gold coins to enter the game and assures her that he’ll win it back with a good hand. This confidence based on chance is unfounded and deluded, since he can never be certain he’ll get a winning hand. As the song continues, the singer’s tone of certainty changes to desperation as he begs rather than offers Suzy to take him up on his offer. He says, “Don’t you push me baby, cause I’m all alone…” and it’s clear that poker’s all he’s got and all he wants.  Just like love, sometimes you can’t help but keep playing the game out of sheer loneliness and hope.  But hope’s part of a winning attitude and The Grateful Dead has that in spades. Whether the singer’s bluffing with the line “I’ve got no chance of losin’ this time” or not: plenty of people will back out because they play with more fear than hope.

There are so many ways to play the game of love and poker ― such a mix of chance, timing, and attitude — that we know you’ll win at both if you just keep playing. There no reason to be a Desperado or a Loser, because when you Lay Your Money Down with a Poker Face, The Winner Takes It All. To listen to this poker playlist and other poker-related songs, check out our Pinterest Playlist.


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Body Language in Poker and Love

When you’re trying to hide a good poker hand or a romantic attraction, your body reveals what your mind conceals. Your words may hide behind casual phrases like “Oh, is it my turn?” in poker or “Oh, I didn’t see you there,” to someone you’ve noticed since they walked in the room, but your body contradicts such nonchalance.

The key to studying body language lies not in the body language a person maintains, but the body language immediately after a hand is dealt or an attractive person enters the room. The first second reveals the unconscious true reaction and the next second is acting. Pay attention to the quick spurts of honesty rather than prolonged facial and body expressions to distinguish between natural and faked tells.

Your feelings tend to be transparent in subtle flashes despite steady eye contact and your screen-saver face. At the poker table, people dealt a good hand flick their eyes at their chips, ever so quickly, at the anticipation of betting. They also unconsciously straighten their posture and hold their cards slightly closer to their body. Contrary to popular belief, bluffers don’t avoid eye contact or tremble, but more commonly sit rigidly upright and make too much eye contact to avoid matching the liar’s stereotype. Similarly, even if you attempt to downplay romantic interest with wavering eye contact and breezy speaking, you’ll still lean forward toward with your legs open and palms out.  These are tell-tale signs that someone feels comfortable and genuinely interested in you. If someone speaks to you with friendliness, but closing their legs, pointing their feet away from you, and leaning away with their stomach facing the opposite direction, they’re faking interest.

Of course, body language is by no means a formula. A lot of us are awkward flailing freaks that may terminally reveal frightened body language regardless of what cards we have in our hand or love in our hearts. Sometimes too, we’re master manipulators who have read books about body language and are incredibly conscious of controlling it to win at poker and line up dates. But most of us are somewhere in between and reveal a mix of conscious and subconscious tells, and that’s why body language never fails to be compelling and useful in poker and romance.

But if the prospect of controlling your own body language while reading other players seems too daunting and cumbersome, take it easy and play Hollywood Poker online, where you can play the game without worrying about mind games. As for love, the equivalent to online poker might be online dating, but please don’t mistake someone with their eyes fixed and leaning their feet and body toward a computer screen as someone with positive body language.  For more on how to play the games of poker and love, refer to our Valentine’s Day Poker Playlist.

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Poker Style: Music

If you think strategy only happens at the poker table, you’re still a novice. At a poker party, strategy starts well before the guests arrive and hands are dealt. If you’re lucky enough to host such a party, don’t overlook your ace in the hole—controlling the music for the evening.

You can start by simply comparing your guests’ response to the shrill minor scale chords in the Psycho soundtrack to a breezy Frank Sinatra serenade. Movies, mazes, and haunted houses expertly instill fear in their use of musical score, silence, and sound. The Psycho soundtrack unnerves you while Frank uplifts you. Fear leads to conservative poker behavior: more calls, checks, holds, and folds. Moreover, fear distracts people, so they’re less focused on the game.

Of course unnerving your friends isn’t a typical goal, and you as host may not be immune from the effects of the soundtrack yourself. Your friends may worry you’re going to stab them in the shower and stop attending poker nights altogether. But don’t discard poker party ploys just yet—sometimes it’s the ridiculous and unconventional strategies that can make all the difference.

For instance, the trend of wearing headphones during professional poker tournaments that emerged in 2004 seemed so cutting edge at the time. Now it’s typical for a third of the players to don headphones, including pros Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, and Erik Seidel. You could surmise they’re listening to ocean waves, Star Wars scores, or Euro-trance, but then again, you’d never know if they were listening to nothing. Headphones could just be a prop used to convey an unfocused, distracted, and nonchalant lack of attention to the game. What do you think? Are headphones the latest accessory for the ultimate poker face?

If poker players do actually listen to music under headphones, wouldn’t they be missing out on opportunities to read faces, body language and emotions? These are all an integral part of poker’s social experience. Similarly, playing music to incite fear in your friends takes away from a worthwhile social bonding experience. But if you’re frienemies, you might as well be a card shark and play Jaws music.

Fortunately, you can opt for music or silence whenever you play Hollywood Poker online. After all, you don’t want to lose your focus when playing against celebrities, do you?

There are so many overlooked details that contribute to strategy. We’ve covered body language, your online poker face, and next up, we’ll explore the strategy in food and drink choices employed by everyone from casual players, poker pros, and celebrities.

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