Gambling has become so synonymous with leisure, luck, and the thrill of chance that it’s not surprising that some of the most successful musicians have turned to it as their topic of choice while writing or performing songs for their rapt and appreciative audiences. Here, in no particular order, are five of the best songs about gambling.
After learning about them, you might want to make a playlist of these tunes and use it as background music the next time you invite other gambling enthusiasts over to your house for a poker party or other similar event.
No list of gambling songs would be complete without a mention of “The Gambler.” Written in 1976 by Don Schlitz when he was only 23 years old, this is a tune that helped boost the popularity of several artists. The first musician to sing it was Bobby Bare. Next, Don Schlitz recorded it himself, although the track only reached number 65 on the charts.
Therefore, the most famous of the artists who sang it is undoubtedly Kenny Rogers. He released it as a single in 1978, and it became a chart-topping hit.
Another notable thing is that the song was mostly successful on the country charts, but it had crossover success on the pop charts, too. In modern times, artists like Taylor Swift — especially in her earliest days as an artist — managed to win over fans of both country and pop music. However, such a feat was rarer in past generations. Rogers even won a 1980 Grammy Award for “The Gambler” in the Best Male Country Vocal Performance category.
Decades later, the song’s staying power persists. It’s still played on radio stations that specialize in the easy listening or oldies genres and is often a favorite of cover artists who want to please their audiences and encourage them to sing along. Its rhythmic hooks are a perfect accompaniment to reading casino reviews or deciding which new game you want to try your hand at next.
Released in 2008 as the second single from Lady Gaga’s debut album, this track clocks in at just under four minutes long and is pure pop perfection for every second. The song’s ultra-catchy hook and chorus help people learn the words and sing along even if they’re only hearing the tune for the first time. Besides being nominated for Grammy Awards, “Poker Face” became a crowd-pleaser at Lady Gaga’s sold-out arena tours. Even people who don’t know Lady Gaga well almost certainly have heard of and adore this memorable track.
“Viva Las Vegas”
Elvis Presley delighted listeners — and probably made people want to check out Las Vegas for themselves — with this jubilant, upbeat track from the 1964 film of the same name. It features radio-friendly characteristics and serves as a key part of the soundtrack for a movie in which Elvis Presley plays a race car driver who falls for a lovely woman played by Ann-Margret. It’s hard to sit still when listening to this top gambling-related track. You’ll surely want to dance instead.
“The Card Cheat”
This 1979 tune from The Clash delves into a topic that’s perpetually brought up during gambling discussions: cheating. Although the song has a dark tone since the cheater ultimately gets shot for his deeds, it has a great horn section that drives the instrumentals forward and makes you want to tap your foot.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards teamed up to work their songwriting magic for this song that became a 1972 hit. Mick Jagger reportedly sat down for a conversation with a housekeeper who liked to play dice. Jagger reportedly didn’t know much about the game at the time, but what he learned became the inspiration for this song.
Gambling is ingrained in our society’s culture, and these songs prove it. You can enjoy them any time by downloading, streaming, or listening to CDs.