You don’t have to listen diligently to be moved by lines like “keeping to himself he plays the game, without her love it always ends the same” and “while life goes on around him everywhere, he’s playing solitaire.” Although the Carpenters version of this song is the most popular, you can also find an Andy Williams rendition of this hit, which was co-written by Phil Cody and Neil Sedaka. Despite stalling at number two on the American pop and country charts, this card-themed classic dominated international airwaves in the early 1980s. Originally recorded by Dave Edmunds two years earlier, the Juice Newton version of this Hank DeVito hit is better known outside of the UK. You don’t have to be a country music fan to appreciate The Gambler. If you’re the kind of guy or gal who always keeps a deck handy, you’ll have no trouble relating to this Canadian country classic.
Clocking in at close to nine minutes, this Bob Dylan classic features a complicated storyline that focuses more on planning a bank robbery, murder, and jealous lovers rather than the action upon the felt. The song begins and ends with the line “I gambled on your love baby and a got a losing hand,” but what happens in the middle is even more interesting. This Grateful Dead classic, which has been performed live more than 700 times, originally appeared on Jerry Garcia’s 1972 solo release. This Kenny Rogers classic, which was written by Don Schlitz, recounts an encounter between the singer and a gambler aboard a train to nowhere. In Still the Same, Detroit singer-songwriter Bob Seger sings about a successful gambler who places all the right bets and knows that you should “never play the game too long.” Yet despite the player’s proven track record, Seger isn’t particularly impressed when he encounters the character years later.
He repeatedly sings “I love you ’cause your deuces are wild, girl, like a double shot of lovin’ so fine.” There’s actually another poker reference when he sings “cause you and me is two of a kind.” They’re the perfect pair as far as he is concerned, grammar aside. As a self-described perfect match, the singer and the object of his affection are two of a kind but they are “workin’ on a full house,” meaning there are some kids in the cards. Solitaire is a top 40 song about a man “who lost his love through his indifference.” The world’s loneliest card game doesn’t just serve as the perfect analogy for dealing with failed romance, but it’s mentioned repeatedly in this 1970s-folk staple. Of course, history tells us that love can be quite a cruel game as the singer has been married and divorced six times. Instead, listeners are taken on a rhythmic journey that any poker player can relate to. Throughout the song, Johnson cries that he’s “gonna get a gamblin’ woman” and by the end of the track, the singer proposes that the queen join him in a union so that they can “make our money green.” Whether the lyricist is talking about a poker hand or a romantic pursuit, the message hits home.
This catchy four-minute number is a popular favorite when it comes to songs about poker, as Lund runs down all the work and life commitments he wants to ditch simply so he can give in to his card obsession. At the end of the day, Lund would rather play blackjack, Omaha, Chinese rummy, draw poker, split hi-lo, Texas Hold’em, let it ride, and dozens of other games than write songs, book a show, play hockey, or spend time with his hot groupies. If you’ve ever played deuces wild poker, you know that landing a two is your main fantasy at least while the game is in session. The catchy chorus that proclaims “you’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run” is true whether you are playing cards or just living your life at large. With a chorus that finds the singer proclaiming his love for the queen of hearts, this track from Gregg Allman’s debut album had little trouble earning a spot on our list. For example, the ace represents the one true god, three acts as the holy trinity, jack stands in for the devil, ten represents the number of commandments, and the queen is the Virgin Mary.