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Released: 2008

“Poker Face” by Lady Gaga is an infectious pop treat that marries the world of gambling to the game of love. The song explores the strategy of masking one’s true intentions – whether in poker or in romance – behind an inscrutable facade.

In the opening lines, Gaga sets the stage using classic poker lingo, “I wanna hold ’em like they do in Texas, please. Fold ’em, let ’em, hit me, raise it, baby, stay with me.” Here, she’s not just talking about a hand of poker, but also about playing the game of seduction, dealing with emotions as if they’re cards in a deck. Notice how she turns the poker term ‘raise’ into a double entendre, referring to both upping the ante in a game and arousing interest or desire in her man.

The line, “Love game intuition, play the cards with spades to start” uses ‘spades’, the highest suit in most card games, as a metaphor to signify that she’s coming on strong right from the beginning. The next line, “And after he’s been hooked, I’ll play the one that’s on his heart” artfully ties back to the poker theme. Gaga implies that once her love interest is emotionally invested, she’ll start playing with his heart (yet another card suit) just as one might play their hand in poker.

The chorus, “Can’t read my, can’t read my, no, he can’t read my poker face” is a clear reference to the unreadable expressions poker players adopt to mask their intentions. In the context of the song, Gaga uses it to hint that her love interest can’t figure out her true feelings – adding a layer of mystery to their relationship.

Gaga continues her risqué metaphors with, “Russian roulette is not the same without a gun. And, baby, when it’s love, if it’s not rough, it isn’t fun.” Here, she suggests that love, like a risky game of Russian roulette, requires stakes – the ‘gun’ symbolising danger and excitement, without which love apparently isn’t ‘fun’ for her.

And let’s not skip past “I’m bluffin’ with my muffin” – possibly one of the most audacious lines in pop music. Here, ‘bluffin” works again on two levels – bluffing in a poker game and pretending disinterest in the romance.

By the closing lines, Gaga makes it clear she’s indeed ‘marvelous’ at this game, leaving her man and the listeners wondering about her true intentions. In essence, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” illustrates the art of allure and mystery in romance painted over a backdrop of a high stakes poker game. It’s a pop masterclass in double entendre and metaphor.

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