Rock’s free-spirited lyrics have always found their place in the gambling lifestyle. From Elvis to Aerosmith and many both before and after, gambling has been the subject of hundreds of songs over the decades. There are songs about the lure of the poker table, some about the thrill of the win and the despair of loss, and tunes about the gambler’s love life. Here’s our list of casino-themed rock songs to keep you company as you roll the dice or turn the cards. We recommend Kabono for all the best new casinos in the U.K.
Elvis Presley – “Viva Las Vegas”
The King was a renowned hedonist, so it’s no wonder he produced the Vegas anthem of his time. There is something genuine and nostalgic about “Viva Las Vegas,” with the King singing about the well-known lure of Sin City: bright lights, exciting games, and the ‘one-armed bandits.’
The gambler’s wish is that the day was longer than 24 hours so he could play more of the games on offer. He also prays to lady luck to keep his dice hot and lucky. He intends to play until the last dime, and if he loses, the experience was worth it; he had a swinging good time.
AC/DC – “The Jack”
This song is surprisingly slow for an AC/DC number. It feels like a blues song but the rhythm is classic rock through and through. Some fans have opined that “The Jack” was a reference to the clap (gonorrhea) but the lyrics are heavy with gambling metaphors and cards (AC/DC never clarified). Whatever the subject matter, “The Jack” is one interesting song to listen to.
The Rolling Stones – “Casino Boogie “
The Rolling Stones released this song during their “Exile” phase, during which the band had taken leave in Southern France and frequented the casinos in Monte Carlo. Mick Jagger later revealed that the song’s lyrics were done from cut-ups: the band didn’t have any particular subject in mind, so they wrote random phrases and dumped them into a basket, then picking out the cut-ups at random and pieced them together to make a song. The song will leave you searching for deeper meaning, but there isn’t one, only lyrics that were deliberately made to make you do a second take.
Clint Black – “A Good Run of Bad Luck “
This is the quintessential gambling song, about luck both good and bad. It was also in the soundtrack for the movie Maverick, starring Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson. The gambler’s eternal hope of catching a lucky break keeps him going through bad luck. As the lyrics go, “Seven come eleven and she could be mine.”
O.A.R. – “That Was A Crazy Game of Poker”
Some critics argue that OAR aren’t a true rock band while others are willing to stretch the genre’s definition to include their style. We’ll give them a mulligan for this song, in which OAR sing about a game of poker and a night of wild fun.
The gambler remembers sitting across from a man with red eyes, drinking too much bourbon and losing the game. He promises to be back for more, despite the loss.
Chris de Burgh – “Spanish Train”
What if the devil challenged you to a game of poker? In “Spanish Train,” that’s exactly what happens to a gambler on a train to Seville. The stakes are high — the very soul of humanity — making the song a referendum on the eternal fight between good and evil, but with a gambling twist.
Bob Dylan – “Huck’s Tune”
This song was featured in the movie Lucky You starring Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana. It tells of the gambler’s constant desire to ease off on the game a bit because he has found true love, wanting to build other relationships because the game’s gotten cold… and so has the deck.
The Eagles – “Desperado”
This song was first released back in 1973 but didn’t get any real traction until The Eagles regrouped years later. It’s about the gambler’s credo: no slowing down, no quitting and always pushing the limit. But it’s also about the missed opportunities of building personal relationships that can become a problem for many hardcore gamblers.
Leonard Cohen – “The Stranger Song”
This song tells the story of every gambler who hopes to hit the big one soon, dreaming of jackpots and huge fortunes so they will never have to work or ‘deal’ again. This song was released in 1967 but has remained a favorite.
There are countless other rock songs about gamblers and gambling. Add them to this playlist and you’ll have solid motivation next time you sit down at the poker table.
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