Top 10 classic gambling songs

Need a playlist for your upcoming poker night with the boys? Maybe you could use a break from the repetitive sound effects on your favourite online pokies and casino games?

That’s the great thing about gambling from home: you can set the scene however you like and listen to whatever you want, all while winning real money.

There are hundreds of gambling-related tracks out there, but which are the best of the bunch? We reckon these 10 top tunes are a good place to start.

Ace of Spades – Motorhead

Even if you have been living in a subterranean ice cave for the past 40 years, you probably know this barnstorming hit from British rockers Motorhead. It’s an all-round belter with a thunderous beat, an iconic guitar riff and lyrics containing a veritable barrage of poker references.

Blackjack – Ray Charles

Ray had a few tunes that made reference to betting and gambling, but none more famously so than ‘Blackjack’. It’s the sorry tale of a man who loses his way on the game of 21, spending every buck he earns on another unlucky hand at the tables. It’s not supposed to uplifting – it’s the blues.

Bottle of Smoke – The Pogues

The Pogues are often hard work at the first time of listening, and Shane McGowan is at his slurry, Irish best in this ripping yarn about a punter who cashes in on a rank outsider at the races. “Twenty-fucking-five to one, me gambling days are done / I bet on a horse called the Bottle of Smoke and my horse won.”

Desperado – The Eagles

The Eagles’ second studio album focuses heavily on the loneliness, depravities and all-round roughness of American Frontier times. The title track is no exception, featuring the line: “Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds, boy / She’ll beat you if she’s able / You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.”

Do It Again – Steely Dan

The first track from Steely Dan’s maiden record is an eclectic fusion of Latin jazz, blues and pop rock. The lyrics read more like a country song, however, telling the story of a serial loser who winds up wasting away in Vegas. The highlight? Denny Dias’ signature electric sitar solo.

House of the Rising Sun – Lead Belly

Gambling, sin, self-loathing – this classic American folk tune has it all. Although the song was made famous by The Animals in the ’60s, the earliest known recording of it belongs to the enigmatic Lead Belly – a prolific Louisiana bluesman from the early 20th century who was known to have penchant for a punt, a pint and a punch-on.

Luck Be a Lady – Frank Sinatra

“A lady never leaves her escort / It isn’t fair, it isn’t nice / A lady doesn’t wander all over the room / And blow on some other guys dice.” Has there ever been a more accurate and amusing appraisal of the ephemeral nature of fortune and chance?

The Gambler – Kenny Rogers

You can’t put together a list of great gambling songs without including this classic 1970s singalong. Several prominent performers recorded it before him, including the likes of Johnny Cash, but it’s Kenny Rogers who made the song his own and catapulted it to number one on the Billboard US Country charts in 1978.

Tumbling Dice – The Rolling Stones

Exile on Main St. is full of cracker tunes, yet ‘Tumbling Dice’ still manages to stand out. The song might be about love and heartache and doomed relationships (and some quintessential Keith Richards riffage), but there’s no mistaking the heavy gambling motif in the lyrics.

Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley

It’s gaudy, it’s cheesy, and it’s not his most substantial work, but that’s exactly why the title track from the King’s 1964 film perfectly captures the essence of Las Vegas, Nevada – the gambling and entertainment capital of the world. “Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire…”