The List: Poker games and music

By Alan Ho

It’s post-World Series of Poker and now you’re hooked on the money-making card game. But I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to perhaps set the musical mood, perhaps get you and your card playing friends in the right mindset? There’s actually a few songs that wax poetic/philosophical on the game of poker:

1. O.A.R.: That Was a Crazy Game of Poker—This is hands down one of the best, IF not THE best song about the card game. It was also the jam band’s first stab at a big time hit, although it was one of their most earliest songs, created literally 5, 6 years before ESPN discovered the game. First verse tells the story:

“Ohh myyyy
20 throw down in my fist of rage
and the man to my left has folded down
well johnny doubled up with a royal flush
I had three jacks and a pair of nines
my mind is turning – just two shots more
there’s not much left to play
well then dude walks in black hat on top
What a mop, I’m lucky
It wasn’t a county cop
cause I’m just runnin out of time”

2. Lady Gaga: Poker Face—If you get past the poker game metaphors, it’s actually a song about having sex and somehow using poker metaphors to describe how you’d do it…with a poker face.

3. The Grateful Dead: Deal –You can’t have a list on poker songs without including this hit from the iconic rockers. One of their more understated pieces, the song has a piece of advice for all poker players:

“Watch each card and play it slow. Wait until that deal come round”

4. Kenny Rogers: The Gambler—Like O.A.R.’s first hit song, this Kenny Rogers vehicle is right down to the point: “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em”…sage advice.

5. Leonard Cohen: The Stranger—The prolific songwriter, better known for the oft-covered “Hallelujah” is also known for this dark diamond in the rough on the game of poker with it’s overt metaphors like “Ah you hate to see another tired man lay down his hand, like he was giving up the holy game of poker”

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