1839, "to deceive (opponents), especially by betting heavily and with a confident air on a worthless hand to make them 'fold,'" an American English poker term, perhaps from Dutch bluffen "to brag, boast," or verbluffen "to baffle, mislead." The general sense "use a show of confident assurance to deceive an opponent as to one's real resources or strength" is by 1854. Related: Bluffed; bluffing.
An identical word meant "blindfold, hoodwink" in 1670s, but the sense evolution and connection are unclear; OED calls it "one of the numerous cant terms ... which arose between the Restoration and the reign of Queen Anne."
"broad, vertical cliff," 1680s, from bluff (adj.) "with a broad, flat front" (1620s), a sailors' word, probably from Dutch blaf "flat, broad." Apparently a North Sea nautical term for ships with broad bows and flat vertical stems. It was later extended to landscape features in North America, such as high broad banks along a shore or range of hills. Of persons, in reference to a full face, indicative of frankness and rough good humor, 1808.
an alternative name for the game of poker, 1824; see bluff (v.). As "an act of bluffing" by 1864. To call (one's) bluff is from 1876.
"Englishman who exemplifies the coarse, burly form and bluff nature of the national character," 1772, from name of a character representing the English nation in Arbuthnot's satirical "History of John Bull" (1712). Via a slurred pronunciation of it comes jumble (n.), London West Indian and African slang word for "a white man," attested from 1957.
also blind-man, "blind person," early 14c., from blind (adj.) + man (n.). The children's game of blindman's buff attested from 1580s; the blindfolded person tries to catch the others, "who, on their part, push him about and make sport with him" [OED]; from buff "a buffet, blow" (see buffet (n.2)). Alternative form blindman's bluff is by 1880s. Such a game formerly was called hoodman-blind (1560s).
card game for two or more played with a full pack, 1834, American English, of obscure origin, perhaps from the first element of German Pochspiel, name of a card game similar to poker, from pochen "to brag as a bluff," literally "to knock, rap" (see poke (v.)). A popular alternative theory traces the word to French poque, also said to have been a card game resembling poker. "[B]ut without documentation these explanations are mere speculation" [Barnhart]. The earlier version of the game in English was called brag.
The game itself originated apparently by 1829, according to later reminiscences, in and around the lower Mississippi region, perhaps among riverboat gamblers. The original form seems to have been played with a 20-card pack (A-K-Q-J-10) evenly dealt among four players; the full-deck version was played by the 1840s.
Slang poker face (n.) "deadpan" is from 1874.
A good player is cautious or bold by turns, according to his estimate of the capacities of his adversaries, and to the impression he wants to make on them. 7. It follows that the possession of a good poker face is an advantage. No one who has any pretensions to good play will betray the value of his hand by gesture, change of countenance, or any other symptom. ["Cavendish," "Round Games at Cards," dated 1875]
To any one not very well up in these games, some parts of the book are at first sight rather puzzling. "It follows," we read in one passage, "that the possession of a good poker face" (the italics are the author's) "is an advantage." If this had been said by a Liverpool rough of his wife, the meaning would have been clear to every one. Cavendish, however, does not seem to be writing especially for Lancashire. [from a review of the above book, Saturday Review, Dec. 26, 1874]