Heavy Metal Musicians and their Hobby: Gambling
Contrary to popular belief, heavy metal musicians don’t spend every waking hour worshipping the devil and burning down churches. One decidedly more normal pastime that seems to attract more than its fair share of performers of extreme music is gambling.
It might be because heavy metal god Lemmy Kilmister’s most famous track was dedicated to the activity or because gambling has long had connotations with an edgier, more dangerous way of life, but gambling has become a common theme in the music genre. Loads of metal songs feature references to gambling, although the pastime is not always portrayed in a positive light. The likes of Iron Maiden and Megadeth have both tackled some of the harmful effects of gambling in their work, whilst Lemmy used it to illustrate the reckless abandon with which the seminal vocalist lived his life.
Conversely, casinos offer heavy metal-themed slots that you can play to win enough to finance your rock n’ roll lifestyle. Online versions are available free of charge too so you try your luck without parting with any cash!
Given that there is a clear relationship between heavy metal music and gambling, let’s look at some of the icons of the scene that most embody dancing (or moshing) with lady luck.
Scott Ian (Anthrax)
Anthrax rhythm guitarist, vocalist, and last remaining founder, Scott Ian, makes no secret of his love of poker. Ian has struggled to balance his passion for the game with his commitments to writing and performing music. However, with the proliferation of online gambling, the Anthrax thrasher has found it easy enough to fit a few games around his schedule.
Ian says he has long enjoyed playing the game but it was a victory at a VH1-hosted charity game that really sparked the fire inside him to play more. He has since played in the Aruba Poker Classic, and the 2008 and 2009 World Series of Poker.
The long-serving guitarist is also believed to have assembled a supergroup of heavy metallers to take part in home games. Rumored to be amongst the star-studded roster is Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Alice in Chains vocalist Jerry Cantrell, and all-around legend Slash.
Sully Erna (Godsmack)
The vocalist of American heavy metal band Godsmack has taken part in multiple Word Series of Poker events. In fact, Sully Erna actually banked more than $62,000 from his appearances at the prestigious tournament in 2006 and 2007.
In 2013, Erna took a break from fronting Godsmack to concentrate on his solo career, as well as playing poker. Despite his victories at the felt, he admitted to feeling lost in the game shortly after his early big cashes. However, in an interview about his comeback to poker, he claims to have done his homework in preparation for his second stint playing. Unfortunately, we have no information regarding any big wins in the years since.
To commemorate his love for and to remind him of just how brutal playing cards can be, Erna has an enormous back tattoo of four aces burning with the words “no justice” written beneath. He says the piece was inspired by a bad beat Erna suffered. He claims to have had his quad aces cracked by a royal flush. Ouch!
Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead)
“If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man. You win some, lose some. It’s all the same to me.”
Of course, Lemmy is on our list of metalheads who love to gamble. Perhaps the most famous song penned by the Motorhead frontman is a down and dirty ode to the pastime and has become one of those legendary tracks that will be played for decades to come.
Unlike our other mentions, Lemmy’s passion wasn’t for poker. He loved the slots. According to Dave Vanian of London punks The Damned, Lemmy would frequent slot halls in London during his time spent in the U.K. capital. There, he would spend many hours spinning the reels in the hope of dropping a jackpot.
It kind of figures that Lemmy would be into slots since he was a common fixture in the iconic LA bar, The Rainbow Bar and Grill, propping up the slot machine with a jack and coke in hand.
Steve Albini (Shellac)
Legendary alternative record producer, and guitarist and vocalist of progressive rockers Shellac, Steve Albini, is another rocker who loves to play cards. Albini’s game of choice is poker.
As well as working with and performing alongside some of the biggest names in alternative music, Albini has found time to excel at two different variants of the game. He has become quite the regular at the World Series of Poker Seniors Championship, playing in both the no-limit hold ‘em and seven-card stud games at four editions of the flagship competition. His highest finish was a 12th at the 2013 tournament.
Live Boeree (Metalhead poker goddess!)
She might not have sold out any stadiums yet but 34-year-old British poker phenom Liv Boeree is well worth a mention for her love of heavy metal whilst being a dominating force at the felt. The girl they call the Iron Maiden has a string of poker titles to her name, as well as a First Class Honors Degree in Physics with Astrophysics and a love of all of the best and darkest noises.
Whilst studying in Manchester, Liv played lead guitar for local metal outfit Dissonance and would later play for London-based gothic, punky group Nemhain. If you need any proof of the worthiness of Liv’s inclusion on this list of metal musicians that love poker, check out her renditions of “Kissing the Shadows” by Children of Bodom on YouTube.