Great Songs about Poker

The game of poker has been immortalized in numerous films ranging from Rounders to The Cincinnati Kid, but other forms of media have also paid tribute to the popular card game. Music is one of the primary examples, and songs about poker can be found in musical genres ranging from country to dance music. The next time you host a card game in your garage, try putting these songs on a playlist.

“No Cheap Thrill” by Suzanne Vega – The woman behind “Luca” and “Tom’s Diner” begins her ode to poker with the line “Ante up, don’t be shy.” From there, it’s all about telling her opponents that it’s going to cost them to see her hand…and laying down a catchy pop beat.

“The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers – When it comes to songs about poker and gambling, it doesn’t get any better than this country classic from 1978. The lyrics concern a chance encounter on a train between the young narrator and an old gambler. The elder man gives the boy some life lessons, although all his metaphors take the form of poker terminology. The single hit #1 on the country charts and #16 on the pop charts.

“All I Wanna Do Is Play Cards” by Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans – Despite his rising success, all lead singer Corby Lund wants to do is play cards. An ode to gambling addiction, this song starts with the sounds of a deck being shuffled and never abates in its enthusiasm. Two years after the song came out, folk musician Geoff Berner released a humorous response titled “Don’t Play Cards for Money with Corby Lund.”

“Poker Face” by Lady GaGa – While this chart-topping single is about romance, it does continually use poker as a metaphor. The first line of the song, for example, says “I wanna hold em’ like they do in Texas.” Thanks to an infectious beat and chorus, the song sold over 12 million units and became one of the best-selling singles of all time.

“That Was a Crazy Game of Poker” by Of a Revolution – This folksy song doesn’t worry about metaphors. Instead, it tells the story of a poker game that goes badly for the narrator, even though he’s determined to make a comeback in the future. “That was a crazy game of poker. I lost it all, but someday I’ll be back again, and I never fold.”

“The Ace of Spades” by Motorhead – “If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man,” begins this heavy metal classic from Lemmy and company. There’s also a reference to the “dead man’s hand,” the infamous poker hand held by Wild Bill Hickock when he was shot in the back and killed in 1876. If you like your music loud and aggressive, this one is a must.

While musical tastes vary, we can all probably agree that poker is one of the greatest games ever created by mankind. If you play these songs for your friends, make sure you include enough to satisfy all musical tastes. Otherwise, pick your favorites and ignore the rest.