There really is a song for every occasion, from major life events to romantic evenings in. While the topic of gambling might not seem like an obvious choice, there’s actually a lot of material for songwriters to work with.
Some choose to focus on the fun and excitement – like Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas – while others use it as a metaphor – see Tumblin’ Dice by The Rolling Stones. Another common style of gambling songs is to spin a cautionary tale – Rambling, Gambling Willie by Bob Dylan is a fantastic example of this.
The output of gambling songs peaked in the middle to late 20th century, with blues, jazz, country and rock ‘n’ roll musicians all having something to say about the habit.
But that’s not to say there hasn’t been more modern offerings; Katy Perry and Lady Gaga released gambling-themed pop songs within a year of each other at the back end of the 2000s. The tone of these tunes is upbeat and fun-loving, and more in line with current attitudes to gambling as a way to relax and have fun with friends, when played responsibly.
So, whether you’re planning on holding a casino party, or just want a playlist to keep you company while you hit the online poker tables, here are some of the best gambling songs you should listen to.
The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers reigned as the king of Vegas in the 70s, which may have inspired his album, The Gambler.
The Gambler had already been recorded by three different musicians, including Johnny Cash, when Kenny Rogers got hold of it and made it the title track on his 1978 album. It’s one of the most famous tracks on the subject and also makes up part of the sub-genre of narrative songs.
In the song, the gambler imparts a lot of gambling wisdom, which can also be applicable to other aspects of everyday life. He talks about knowing the difference between what is valuable and what can be discarded as being the key to survival, both on the table and in life. Rogers’ country stylings make the song the perfect track to listen to when unwinding at the end of the day or after a poker session.
The Card Cheat by The Clash
Hiding cards up your sleeve used to be a popular cheating technique in land-based casinos.
Recorded by The Clash in 1979 and released on their album London’s Calling, The Card Cheat has had many people debating the true meaning behind the lyrics. On the surface, the song talks about a card cheat who is caught and shot, but The Clash are well known for adding extra meaning in their words, especially anti-establishment ideas and messages.
It has been suggested that the song is a metaphor for the fall of Colonial powers, or a lament on man’s willingness to follow the monarchy’s orders, even when that has meant their death. Whatever the true meaning, the motif of the gambling cheat getting his comeuppance stands as a good reminded to always play fair.
Mojo Man by Jimi Hendrix
A classic from the late, great Jimi Hendrix, Mojo Man doesn’t tell a story. Instead, it uses the line ‘I’ve always been a gambling man, so you know I’m going to take a chance’, to evoke the feeling of being a person who takes risks. With the dirty guitar and bluesy beat behind Hendrix’ unmistakeable voice, this is a song which screams temptation and encourages the listener to shake off their inhibitions and try something new.
Getting people to try something new can be difficult, as we’re so afraid of failure or not liking new experiences. Take gambling for example, there are so many slots and card games to choose from that it can quickly become a daunting decision. That’s why the best online casinos use familiar themes and styles to make people feel more comfortable.
One reputable name in the industry is 888 Casino, where you’ll find a wide range of exciting and recognisable themes. Visit their online slots lobby page and you’ll find the legend himself within the Jimi Hendrix Slot.
Waking Up In Vegas by Katie Perry
Las Vegas is well known for its abundance of casinos.
One of the most recent additions to the list of gambling songs, Waking Up in Vegas is all about how easy it is to get caught up in something and not think about the consequences. This is a problem that many gamblers will have found themselves in at one point or another, whether it’s calling on a pot because everyone else did or spending far too much of your bankroll chasing a winning hand.
This tempo is upbeat, with catchy lyrics and a chorus that you will be humming long after the song has finished. The video is also full of stereotypical Vegas imagery and is a real delight to watch. One to put on when celebrating a win, or to get people dancing.
Gambling songs manage to conjure up the feelings that many people have while playing the games. But it doesn’t stop there. Whether it’s excitement at the prospect of a fun time, or regret about chances they wasted, these songs also evoke emotions of everyday life, which everyone can recognise and identify with.