Top 6 Casino and Gambling-Themed Songs
For hundreds of years, gambling has been a common pastime of many. People the world over really do love to gamble, and there’s no getting away from that fact.
Whether it’s casino gambling, such as roulette, blackjack or poker, or sports betting, there are many forms of gambling that capture the imagination, many of which have been the source of creative pursuits, such as stories and songwriting.
In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best casino and gambling-related songs that have been written over the years. Let’s take a look.
Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley)
Arguably the most well-known song to reference gambling is “Viva Las Vegas,” which is Elvis’ homage to the bright lights of Las Vegas, the home of casino gambling.
Elvis was a huge figure in Las Vegas, performing many sell-out shows in the place famously nicknamed Sin City. The song was recorded to feature in one of Elvis’ most known films, also called “Viva Las Vegas.” It’s all about the electric energy that buzzes around Las Vegas, focusing on the thrill of the gambling-crazy city, as the following lyrics suggest:
“Oh, there’s black jack and poker and the roulette wheel
A fortune won and lost on ev’ry deal
All you need’s a strong heart and a nerve of steel
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas with your neon flashin’
And your one arm bandits crashin’
All those hopes down the drain
Viva Las Vegas turnin’ day into night time
Turnin’ night into daytime
If you see it once
You’ll never be the same again”
For many, the above lyrics perfectly capture what Las Vegas is all about. It’s a city that is famous for gambling, and fortunes can be won and lost in the blink of an eye, so strap in and enjoy the ride.
Poker Face (Lady Gaga)
When it comes to up-to-date music by artists that are still very much in the public eye, there are few songs synonymous with gambling that are more popular than Poker Face by Lady Gaga.
Released in 2008, right before Lady Gaga was propelled to the status of global star, “Poker Face” draws on the various meanings of having a poker face, which was a term that first referred to poker players who could deceive and confuse other players with their facial expressions. In other words, if you have a good poker face, you don’t reveal anything about your cards when playing the game.
The most used lyrics from the song go like this:
“Can’t read my, can’t read my
No, he can’t read my poker face
(She’s got me like nobody)
Can’t read my, can’t read my
No, he can’t read my poker face
(She’s got me like nobody)”
It was these lyrics from the song “Poker Face” that helped Lady Gaga to establish herself as the pop icon that she is today.
The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
Perhaps the most popular and most well-referenced song that is directly related to the act of gambling, “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers, was a huge hit in the late 1970s. Written and released in 1978, this song, which is all about the parallels between making big decisions in life and making key decisions when card gambling, is one of the most known country songs not just of the 70s but of all time. It rapidly became Rogers’ signature song, so much so that when someone thinks of Kenny Rogers nowadays, they invariably think of “The Gambler.”
The song features many great lyrics, such as:
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”
These lyrics directly talk about the importance of knowing when to take risks and when to hold back when gambling, but they can also be applied to regular life, which is perhaps why the song is loved and so well played even to this day.
Easy Money (Billy Joel)
Released in 1983, “Easy Money” is a song by Billy Joel, who had many hits during the ’70s and ’80s. In this song, as the title suggests, the artist talks about enjoying the activity of gambling, alluding to the fact that it’s often seen as a way to obtain quick funds, or in this case, “Easy Money.”
There are several lyrics in the song that reference both casinos and gambling in general, such as:
“Take me to the action
Take me to the track
Take me to a party if they’re bettin’ in the back
I’ve been working all my life
Can’t afford to wait
Let me call my wife so I can tell her I’ll be late”
“Take me to the tables
Take me to the fights
Run me like the numbers
Roll me like the dice
When you’re counting on a killing
Always count me in
Talk me into losin’ just as long as I can win”
Not viewed as one of Billy Joel’s biggest hits, thanks largely to the success of smash records such as “Uptown Girl” and “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” “Easy Money” is certainly a song for gamblers.
The Card Cheat (The Clash)
“The Card Cheat” is a song on the 197 “London Calling” album from British band The Clash. It’s all about a gambler, but one who doesn’t play by the rules. As a result, the gambler is met with a rather unsavoury fate, as the lyrics below describe.
“But the dealer just stares
“There’s something wrong here”, he thinks
The gambler is seized and forced to his knees
And shot dead”
A timely reminder to gamblers not to cheat, as you never know what the consequences might be!
Gambling Man (Lonnie Donegan)
In the 1950’s popular skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan and legendary American folk singer, Woody Guthrie penned “Gambling Man” together. Sung by Donegan, the song was released in 1957 and is all about a man who simply loves to gamble, so it is well worth its place on this list. As the example lyrics below show, the song really is all about a gambler.
“I’ve gambled down in Wasington
And I’ve gambled up in Maine
I’m going down into Georgia
To knock down my last game
I’m a gamblin’ man, man, man
I’m a gamblin’ man”
The song resonated with lots of people at the time and since. Why? Well, it’s probably because people see either themselves or somebody they know in the lyrics, for there are an awful lot of gamblers in this world.
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