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Posted May 30, 2016 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

Music and Gambling

Music and gambling go hand in hand. Watch any poker show on TV, or walk into any poker room and you will see players donning headphones hooked up to iPods. It could be mistaken for a Beats by Dre commercial.

All jokes aside, poker players are passionate about their music. It not only helps them relax, for some it’s their means for focus. Casinos tried banning headphones in tournaments at certain events. This obviously did not go over so well with the players and they were allowed to be placed over their ears once more.

When it comes to playlists, to each their own I like to say. Some like rap, some prefer the mind rattling noise of death metal. Others prefer to mix poker with music by listening to songs about poker.

Over the years, and especially during the poker boom of the early 2000’s with the rise in popularity of being able to gamble online, bands and musicians have taken their passion for music and poker – and turned that into a lyrical masterpiece. If you are interested in adding some of the best poker songs around to your next playlist; here’s a list of my favorite poker songs ever made.

The Gambler – Kenny Rogers

What would a list of poker songs be without the most infamous “Gambler.” Most have never heard of the grey haired country singer; but most will know this song. Or at the least the lyrics – “You got to know when to hold em…. Know when to fold em!”

Viva Las Vegas – Elvis A.K.A “The King”

This tune holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of those Dance Dance video game songs where you dance to the moves given to you on the screen. My daughter and I play this on a regular basis. However, you don’t need to have the rhythm and hip shaking talents of The King to appreciate what is perhaps, the unofficial theme song of Vegas.

Poker Face – Lady Gaga

Not a personal favorite of mine to be honest. However, one of the only songs I know that actually has the word poker in it deserves to be on this list. The song itself has nothing to do with poker; and to be frank, I’m not quite sure what the song is about. You’ll have to listen for yourself to figure that one out.

Luck Be a Lady – Frank Sinatra

One of my all-time favorite songs from “Old Blue Eyes”. This song is a quintessential part of any playlist when playing poker. Sinatra, Vegas and gambling are like P.B. & J. You don’t think of one without the other.

Ace of Spades – Motorhead

Not to be confused with Swedish electronic band Ace of Base – Motorhead’s timeless rock hit gets the adrenaline flowing. If youre feeling tired at the tables, a dose of Lemmy and his voice that sounds like he just gargled a handful of asphalt will always do the trick.

The Card Cheat – The Clash

A ballad of sorts from the band that helped spark the punk era of the 80’s -The Card Cheat shows off the diversity of the late Joe Strummer. It’s no London Calling, or Police and Thieves; but still a great song.

Take the Money and Run – Steve Miller Band

Go on, take that money and run. Words to live by for any poker player. And a song to live by that is great for cruising with the top down, or grinding at the poker tables.

Take Me to the River – Talking Heads

Most know the Talking Heads for “Burning Down the House”. Take me to the River is one of their greatest songs, if not their best. I’m beginning to show my age a bit, so let’s hope the next song adds some youth to this soul.

Lazy Poker – Peter Green Fleetwood Mac

Classy blues riffs mixed with soulful lyrics from Fleetwood Mac will keep your foot tapping all the way to the final table. By the way, this is not the Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac you are thinking of.

Crazy Game of Poker – O.A.R.

O.A.R. was a relatively unknown college band from my hometown in Maryland. Then Chris Moneymaker and ESPN helped change all that when the song was the opening theme to ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP in 2003.

Depending on which version you listen to, the song varies. I prefer the long, live version that transforms from slow, to rocking, to a reggae beat by the end of the 10+ minutes of the song. No wonder it was never played on the radio!

Honorable Mentions

If you feel there’s a song missing, hopefully this list of honorable mentions will satisfy your playlist.

Gambler – Madonna

Deuces are Wild – Aerosmith

Good Run of Bad Luck – Clint Black

Deck of Cards – Don Williams

Gambler – Whitesnake

Sublime – Bad Fish

Two of Hearts – Stacy Q.


Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].