Poker is a timeless game. It’s been around for centuries and in recent years its popularity has grown even more due to the rise of online poker sites. So it’s no surprise that poker references are found in music from various genres, from ragtime tunes to rap songs and classic rock.
Join us as we take a look at some of the best songs about poker released over the years and see how they capture the essence of this exciting casino game.
Ace Of Spades – Motorhead
When it comes to songs inspired by the casino golden age, this classic heavy metal song is one of the most iconic. Written and performed by British rock band Motorhead, “Ace Of Spades” was released in 1980 as part of their fourth studio album. The song is often used as an anthem during live poker games, especially during all-in confrontations between players vying for the big pot.
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
Released in 1978 as a track from the album named after himself, “Kenny Rogers,” this country music hit tells the story of an experienced gambler offering advice on how to play a few hands wisely: “You got to know when to hold ’em / Know when to fold ’em / Know when to walk away / And know when to run.” This song was also used as inspiration for popular video slots, including Microgaming’s “The Dark Knight Rises” slot game which came out in 2012 and featured images from Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies alongside some interesting bonus rounds related to Rogers’ lyrics.
High Roller In A Game Of Chance – Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
Recorded back in 1995 and released on Shepherd’s debut album “Ledbetter Heights,” “High Roller In A Game Of Chance” is another great example of bluesy rock inspired by casino life. Like the other songs already mentioned, this track contains numerous references to betting strategies: “I’m runnin’ high rollers at my table tonight / Gonna take every bet I can make alright.” It also features some amazing guitar riffs from Shepherd himself, which makes it even more enjoyable for blues fans.
Desperado – The Eagles
Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote this 1973 classic rock hit as a tribute to their friend, Stephen Stills, who had recently died in an accident. With lyrics such as “you better let somebody love you / before it’s too late,” “Desperado” paints a picture of desperation that many poker players will relate to. References to gambling are also made in “The warm Arizona night,” which further highlights the themes of risk-taking and chance inherent in any poker match.
Huck’s Tune – Bob Dylan
Another great song inspired by gambling is Bob Dylan’s 2008 track “Huck’s Tune.” Written for Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel “Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn,” this song reflects on Huck Finn’s adventures with his companion Jim as they travel downriver toward freedom on a raft powered only by luck and determination, in much the same way that players rely on luck when they play card games! References to “shuffling up five kings” hint at certain situations during a round of Texas Hold’em in which, although two players may both have strong hands, one will eventually lose out because the other has an unbeatable hand, such as five kings or four aces (known colloquially as “quads”.)
The Stranger Song – Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen wrote this 1967 folk-rock masterpiece about his own experiences traveling through Europe before settling into life as an artist in Montreal. Although references to gambling are only oblique (“like jokers wild/my fortune unfolds”,) the song suggests that entering unknown territory is just like stepping inside a casino full of strangers who are all looking for something new and exciting.
On The Nickel – Tom Waits
Tom Waits released this bluesy 1980 track as part of his “Heartattack And Vine” album, which explores themes related to the poverty and homelessness experienced by those who lived near Los Angeles’ Skid Row district during America’s golden age of casinos and gaming halls. Lyrics such as “there ain’t nobody here but us chickens/and I’m rolling sevens now” are clear references to these establishments where people tried their luck at various games such as dice rolls and slot machines.
Deuces Are Wild – Aerosmith
Aerosmith released this 1987 hard-rock single off their “Permanent Vacation” album. It pays homage specifically to poker in its chorus which contains lines derived directly from the rules of Texas Hold’em: “Two pairs will get you nowhere …Three deuces will make it right.” The verses of the song make additional references to the bluffing tactics often employed during high-stakes tournaments. So if you’re looking for something upbeat, be sure to add “Deuce Are Wild” to your playlist.
Poker Face – Lady Gaga
“Poker Face” is undoubtedly the most iconic poker song of the 21st century. The song was released in 2008 on Gaga’s debut album, “The Fame,” and instantly became an international hit. The catchy pop melody combined with Lady Gaga’s unique vocals create an intense listening experience as she sings about bluffing and trying not to show your hand. Particularly memorable is the chorus with its repeated line, “Can’t read my, can’t read my / No he can’t read my poker face.” Whether you’re a beginner or experienced player, this song will make you feel like you’re ready to take on any challenge at the table!
Feel the vibe with BetMGM
Now that you’ve got the ultimate playlist, register at BetMGM to put it to the test. Whether you’re a newbie learning the ins and outs of video poker or a seasoned player preparing for your next big poker tournament, BetMGM provides a range of options to suit your needs.