The Best Seven Poker Songs Ever

6 days ago - written by Paul Seaton
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Poker and music go together like strawberries and Wimbledon, like rhubarb and custard, like England and World Cup woe. But what are the best poker related songs? 

 

We delved deep into the back catalogue of music history to find seven songs that you might want to add into your next playlist on Spotify, iTunes or your own chosen music hub. So sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy our deep listen to seven classic poker tracks. 

 

Kenny Rogers - The Gambler  

What's it about? 

Kenny isn't just chillaxing at his faux-mahoghany partner desk. He's come bearing some serious poker knowledge, all courtesy of an old drunk he met on a train, presumably bound for 'Value Town'. Turns out him and his banjaxed buddy can strike a trade. Every bit of Kenny's contraband is up for grabs as he pawns the lot for some words of wisdom. Rogers told The Muppet Show that 'The Gambler' in question died in his sleep when he "broke even". Hey, at least he passed on the nugget of information to Kenny that he should know when to hold 'em or fold 'em. 

Performance 

The Gambler got to #1 on the U.S. Country music Billboard chart, but only reached #16 on the main countdown. Oddly, it performed even worse in the U.K., getting to #22 when it was released in November 1978. But it reached #8 in Canada. 

Best Lyric 

Someone never listened to the maxim that should be aware of your chipstack and others at all times:

"You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done." 

 

The Weepies - Vegas Baby 

What's it about? 

Put simply, Vegas Baby is all about leaving your regular life behind and hitting the road for a trip to Las Vegas. Countless thousands do it every year at World Series time, so as the song states, 'Slip the traffic like a noose, on the trail of some mirage.' That mirage is Las Vegas and the spirit of poker players is evident throughout the song. 

Performance 

Released only on the 2003 album 'Happiness', Vegas Baby is a bit of a hidden gem. An independent release, the album gave The Weepies a platform for huge success, signing to Nettwerk after it's popularity grew a devoted fanbase. 

Best Lyric 

Just when you think you might be out of luck, a trip to Vegas can always turn it around:

"Every time it comes
I think my luck will stay
Drive all the way
To Vegas baby." 

 

Clint Black - A Good Run of Bad Luck 

 

What's it about? 

Created as part of the soundtrack to the 1994 movie Maverick, starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, the song - and music video - deals with the twin aims of many a poker player, namely striking it lucky at the felt and with one lucky lady. Triumphing over any run of bad luck, our hero in the song must overcome his inability to master bankroll management ("A high roller even when the chips are down") and a cripplingly bad run with a short-stack when it comes to ending the night with the girl of his dreams ("squeezin' out a thin dime 'til there's no one hanging on my arm"). 

Performance 

The hilarious music video (directed by Black himself, natch) features footage of the film Maverick interspersed with Clint Black's band prancing around on a floor similar to how your last home game ended when Gavin threw the deck all over your kitchen floor before promising never to 'return to this crap den ever again' on his way out, slamming the door I might add. Ahem. Anyway, the song reached #1 on both the U.S. and Canadian country charts, ending 1994 as the 20th best country song released. That sounded better before being written down.  

Best Lyric 

If this is Clint Black's logic, we're playing for 'rolls the second he wants to, in any poker room he fancies from King's Casino to Dusk Till Dawn. 

"If I'm bettin' on a loser, I'm gonna have a devil to pay
But it's the only game I know to play, it doesn't matter anyway." 

 

Sting - Shape of My Heart 

 

 

What's it about? 

Sting has described the subject of his song released on 1st August 1993 as "a card player, a gambler who gambles not to win but to try to figure out some kind of mystical logic in luck, or chance; some kind of scientific, almost religious law." If that sounds too pompous for you, then do remember that this is Sting we're talking about. It's a great song, but it even mixes up it's game references, with the line 'He may play the jack of diamonds, he may lay the queen of spades' clearly a reference to the 19th-century French game of Bezique, the declaration of those two cards being the name of the game. 

Performance 

The album from which Shape of My Heart is taken was 'Ten Summoner's Tales', which came out in 1993. Shape of My Heart itself only reached #57 in the U.K. and failed to chart at all on the U.S. Billboard, although popular samples of the song helped Sugababes and Craig David reach numbers #2 and #11 respectively. Fact: the original song plays over the end credits of the film Léon, which stars Jean Reno and Natalie Portman.

Best Lyric 

Can't even look ironic about this chorus. It's really good. In fact, it's almost tantric:  

"I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart" 

 

Frank Sinatra - Luck be a Lady 

 

What's it about? 

Ladies have been compared to many things over the years, but luck in poker? Actually, yeah. Sinatra's soothing tones weren't the first to sprinkle magic over the track, which was written in 1950 and featured in the musical Guys and Dolls. But he brings to life the idea that a lady might be appropriate to the luck of the roll, be it cards or, as Frank croons it, 'A lady doesn't wander all over the room and blow on some other guy's dice.'  

Performance 

Not many songs have been sung by both Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, but Luck be a Lady is one of them. It was also covered by Chrissie Hyde and Barbara Streisand, but the song was originally recorded by Robert Alda, who in a nod to Sinatra's love of whiskey - possibly - appeared in two episodes of the sitcom, M*A*S*H. 

Best Lyric 

Something tells me that our imagined gambler needs to hit a seven at the craps table: 

"A lady wouldn't make little snake eyes at me
When I've got my life on this roll." 

 

AC/DC - The Jack 

 

What's it about? 

In the light of recent (and right) balancing of gender roles in society, AC/DC's lyrics for this song look more than a little dated. Scott and Young's later assertion that the song is about a venereal disease ('The Jack' is Australian slang for Gonorrhea) when they sang 'That all the cards were coming from the bottom of the pack, and if I'd known what she was dealin' out, I'd have dealt it back' only make the song sound more tawdry. 

Performance 

The Jack was taken from the album T.N.T. which wasn't quite as explosive as AC/DC might think. If anything, ironically, it wasn't a current hit, yet has acquired fans over the years. An independent release for Albert Productions in 1975, either side of the Australian and International releases of High Voltage. The later albums Highway to Hell (1979) and Back in Black (1980) would become much bigger hits for the Australian band. 

Best Lyric 

Unless you're sure, don't always trust that your high card is going to hold:

"She was holdin' a pair
But I had to try,
Her deuce was wild
But my ace was high."

 

Elvis Presley - Viva Las Vegas 

 

What's it about? 

A love letter to the home of poker, Presley's rendition of Viva Las Vegas continues to capture the imagination gamblers from Nevada to New York and far beyond. The lyrics tell the tale of a city that is famed for 'turning day into nighttime, turning night into daytime. If you see it once, you'll never be the same again.' An endless travel brochure in song form, it is Las Vegas' greatest calling card and the theme tune to thousands of poker players' World Series dreams. 

Performance 

How can a song that peaked at #29 in the charts become such an iconic tune? Marketability and exposure. Originally recorded as lead song for the film of the same name where Elvis Presley plays Lucky Jackson, a race car driver who travels to Las Vegas, Nevada to take part in a Grand Prix,  the song has been covered by dozens of artists during the years since. Viva Las Vegas reached #12 on the UK Singles Chart, improving to #15 after a reissue in 2007. It is, essentially, the best song about poker purely because it embodies the essence of the game's spritual home. Amazingly, the King of Rock 'n' Roll Elvis Presley never performed the song live. 

Best Lyric 

In one line, the song's writers Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman sum up the appeal of 'Sin City'. 

"Oh, that blackjack and poker and the roulette wheel
A fortune might be lost on every deal
All you need is sonar and nerves of steel"

 

So there you have it. Load up those tunes and make every partypoker LIVE tournament you play a journey you'll always have a soundtrack for. If we've missed any of your favourite tracks to play to, simply comment below and let us know! 

 

Would you like to write for partypokerLIVE? Every article we publish will be rewarded with a ticket worth $109 on partypoker. Read all about how you can become a writer for partypokerLIVE here

 

  

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