There’s always been a strong connection between music and poker. This connection remains highly evident in the most popular iteration of the game today: online poker. In 2019, Indian digital gaming platform PokerBaazi collaborated with rapper Shah Rule to produce the song 'Dekh Meri Baazi,' which the company called the “ultimate poker anthem of the year.”
Meanwhile, at the London leg of the PPPoker World Championships (PPWC) 2020, players partied to live music courtesy of the official event DJ. It’s likely that PPPoker will continue this trend for future tournaments as CardPlayer Lifestyle reports that PPWC Brazil 2020 is slated for April —in the musical melting pot that is the city of Sao Paolo. As that tournament showed, the poker industry has a strong link to music and uses it attract new players to competitions. Yet in the music industry, the roots of poker run much deeper.
1975 — The Jack by AC/DC
She played 'em fast / And she played 'em hard / She could close her eyes / And feel every card...Back when it was released, this unapologetic poker-inspired anthem was overplayed by radio stations in AC/DC’s native Australia, and today, you can still hear it slip into classic rock playlists. With the song’s undeniably catchy beat and Angus Young’s acrobatic guitars, The Jack remains to be one of the best hits by bare-bones rock powerhouse AC/DC.
1978 — The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
He said, "Son, I've made a life / Out of readin' people's faces / Knowin' what the cards were / By the way they held their eyes / So if you don't mind me sayin' / I can see you're out of aces /For a taste of your whiskey / I'll give you some advice..." Arguably Kenny Rogers’ greatest work, The Gambler is a classic country song in every sense of the phrase: its 4/4 time signature, the clever use of poker as a metaphor for life, and an underlying tale that is as endearing as it is suggestively dark. Inarguably one of the most influential country songs ever made —a great feat in a genre and era that was dominated by the likes of Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson, and Alabama.
1979 — The Card Cheat by The Clash
From the Hundred Year War to the Crimea / With a lance and a musket and a Roman spear / To all of the men who have stood with no fear / In the service of the King. Leave it to 1970s British punk rockers The Clash to put things into historical perspective. After luring you in with upbeat piano and arguably Mick Jones’ best vocal work, the song takes a sudden left turn as the player in the story gets shot for cheating, summarizing much of human history. In a massive review of the band’s 139 songs, Vulture ranks it as the ninth best song by The Clash.
1980 — The Ace of Spades by Motörhead
Pushing up the ante, I know you gotta see me / Read 'em and weep, the dead man's hand again... As aggressive as it sounds, The Ace of Spades could be the ultimate love song to the game. In fact, Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister was a huge poker fan himself —highly evident in how he used poker rules and terminology to craft the lyrics. Combined with some of the grooviest riffs and drums in metal, The Ace of Spades is a tune that’s still stuck in the head of anyone who grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s.
2008 — Poker Face by Lady Gaga
I wanna hold em' like they do in Texas, please. / Fold em' let em' hit me raise it baby stay with me, I love it! A year after its release, Poker Face still topped the UK singles chart, was covered by legendary British Pop Rock ensemble Arctic Monkeys, and bagged several awards which put Lady Gaga in a spotlight that hasn’t faded since. She certainly hit the nail on the coffin with this debut hit song, a study of poker as a metaphor for love and relationships —the ultimate game.