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Top five gambling songs

EVERYONE loves a punt – including your favourite music artists.

From sitting at the poker tables to laying a hail Mary bet in order to land the perfect woman, gambling has been the inspiration behind some of history’s greatest songs.

Here’s our look at some of the best of the best.

Kenny Rogers: The Gambler

Does this song even need an intro?

How many times have you been in a pub and The Gambler has come on and friends and strangers alike have joined in a chorus of “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run”?

It’s basically the story of a down on his luck average Joe who runs into a bloke who loves a punt – with just about every thing.
He trades him his las lick of whisky for the iconic advice.

The song uses gambling as a metaphor for life, indeed, with the advice easily translatable to how we live.

A list of the best songs inspired by gambling starts and ends with this 1978 hit from country crooner Kenny Rogers.

Rogers won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song for The Gambler and it inspired him to take his song to the small screen, with Emmy nominated and winning TV movies by the same name.

Interesting to note that Johnny Cash actually recorded the song before Rogers, but it never took off.

Rogers on The Gambler

“I think when I first recorded ‘The Gambler,’ there was something that I truly felt was unique about it.”

“What bothered me, of course, is I think Johnny Cash had already recorded it — a couple of other people had recorded it already.
“But I just loved what it said, I loved the way it said it, and I loved — it’s called the ‘cadence’ — the way the song was written, and the rhythm of the lyric and the rhythm of the song.

“It just painted this wonderful picture, I think.

“I had had several other hits and I was starting to really build up, and this one of course just exploded like nothing I’d ever seen.

“A lot of that is because, it’s not just … while it’s written specifically about gambling, there’s much more to that song than about gambling.

“It’s really more of a philosophy of life, how to live your life.

“I think that’s what people like about it.

“And I really have a knack for finding singalong songs with parts to them that everyone loves to sing.

“I think that’s the other part of it.”

Lady Gaga: Poker Face

From old to new, the teenie bopping punters will live this one.

The 2008 worldwide hit is one of the best selling singles of all time and is basically about sex and punting.

Yeah, we know, plenty of meaning, but this is pop music.

She uses the term poker face to describe her ability to seduce and tease, just as someone playing poker does in order to outwit their opponent.

Just like people often do in relationships or courtship, poker players do their best to have control of their emotions, while attempting to read their opponents.

The single sold nearly 16 million copies and made the Fame Monster a household name.

It was number one just about everywhere and we reckon even the most haggard old poker player might have hummed a few bars when he was dealt a winning hand.

Gaga on Poker Face:

“You know this song is actually about when I was making love to this guy that I was dating a long time ago,” she said.

“I was thinking about chicks every time we had sex.

“And I just didn’t want him to figure it out because I felt so bad.

“But I don’t anymore because I wrote a song about it.”

Motorhead: Ace of Spades

“If you like to gamble, I tell you, I’m your man”.

From the first blood curdling shrieks coming out of front man Lemmy Kilmeister’s mouth, you know this song is going to be an epic ride.

One of the best metal songs of all time, Motorhead’s Ace of Spades still holds up today.

While Lemmy has sadly passed away, the song was basically a metaphor for his hard-living life.

It tells the story of the life of a free spirit and jams more gambling vernacular into one song than any other.

“Pushing up the ante”, “snake eyes”, “double up or quit, double stake or split”,“Read ’em and weep – the dead man’s hand again”. We could list plenty more.

This is one of those headbangers that every punter loves.

Lemmy on Ace of Spades

“All people seem to know is Ace of Spades.

“It’s backfired at me ever since ’cause the ace of spades is a bad-luck sign — so naturally I’ve always felt an affinity with it.

“Damn the dark card! For two years I’ve sung “eight of spades” and nobody noticed.

“Not even the rest of the band.

“They probably think it’s all clever metaphors, which it isn’t.”

The Eagles: Desperado

This is one of those songs you hear in your head when you’re down to your last 10er and you drop it on a $20 pop in the hope of recouping your losses.

It never happens and you are the Desperado.

The song came from The Eagles western themed album of the same name and has been covered numerous times.

It’s about an outlaw who refuses to fall in love, but really wants to – pretty much a lesson for all punters when they are scoping their bets.

Find something juicy, but don’t fall in love with it. Good way to blow it quick.

Don Henley on Desperado:

“Jackson Browne suggested a Western theme — something to do with playing cards, I think — which is sort of where we were headed anyway.

“Glenn (Frey) came over to write one day, and I showed him this unfinished tune that I had been holding for so many years.

“I said, “When I play it and sing it, I think of Ray Charles — Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. It’s really a Southern gothic thing, but we can easily make it more Western.”

“Glenn leapt right on it — filled in the blanks and brought structure.

“And that was the beginning of our songwriting partnership … that’s when we became a team.”

Frank Sinatra: Luck Be A Lady

This is one of those songs that rings in your ears when you’ve just laid your first bet of the night or day.

“Luck, be a lady tonight” – translation: – “Please, let my bets win”.

This is one of those iconic standards that every one knows and was actually inspired by a true life figure.

The song was written by Frank Loesser for the classic musical Guys and Dolls.

Sinatra played the role of Nathan Detroit in the film version in 1955 and helped arrange the song, sung by Sky Masterson in the movie, before making it his own.

Masterson was based on the infamous punter Alvin ‘Titanic Thompson’ Thomas, known as “The Man Who Bet On Everything”.

We reckon that qualifies this one as a punting classic.

Frank Sinatra Enterprises’ Charles Pignone on Luck Be A Lady:

“When you hear Luck Be A Lady and how it’s done specifically in the play, Frank was the one that told Billy May how to arrange it and changed the tempo a bit so it would be different.

“Of course, it fits Frank like a glove.

“Frank always lamented that he didn’t have the Marlon Brando role (the lead in the movie), which he should have had because the songs were more adaptable to Frank. Brando couldn’t really sing.”

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