Music has always been a way to express feelings. After all, love is a constant subject in music and famous singers have used their songs to express their passion for the most incredible things, including gambling.
On a more scientific note, music can influence people’s moods, emotions and even decisions. For example, the music we hear in public places is often well thought-out and serves a specific purpose: retail stores play songs that make you spend more time in the store to make you forget how long you’ve been there and even influence your shopping decisions.
The music we hear in casinos is no different.
It’s used as a psychological tool to make people feel more or less excited, relaxed and willing to play longer. In fact, music and gambling have a very tight relationship on multiple fronts.
The fact that many famous musicians are avid poker players, as well, only strengthens the bond between music and gambling. After all, Frank Sinatra contributed significantly to Las Vegas’ immense fame as the world’s gambling capital.
Frank Sinatra playing poker with a dog, 1955
The list of musically-inclined souls who were also inclined to gamble goes on and on, and many of them wrote songs inspired by their experiences with Lady Luck. Some lyrics can even teach us essential lessons about the games and life itself, if we pay close attention. Let’s see some of the most famous ones.
“The Gambler” – Kenny Rogers
Perhaps the most famous gambling song ever written, this country piece describes the narrator’s encounter with a gambling man on a train, who proceeds to drink Kenny’s whiskey and smoke his cigarettes, sharing his wisdom in return.
Knowing when to hold, what to keep and when to run away are the most difficult things to learn — both in life and in gambling. Beginners are often reckless and like to count the money they don’t yet have in their pockets. The “Gambler” advises Kenny to be patient and think about his game and his choices: every hand has the same potential of being a win that it has of being a loss, so it will be what you make of it.
“Ace of Spades” – Motorhead
Aside from being the founder and lead singer of Motorhead, Lemmy Kilmister was also a gambling enthusiast. He mainly enjoyed video slots and used to visit London casinos to play slot machines. While he wasn’t an avid card games player, he found a song about card games easier to write than one about the spinning reels.
The lyric “you win some, lose some, all the same to me” speaks about the hard part of gambling — when you no longer enjoy playing, but can’t leave the table. It doubles as a metaphor for the rockstar life and how the fast-changing glamor of being famous can often make you lose yourself.
“Luck Be a Lady” – Frank Sinatra
As we mentioned before, Sinatra was both a lover and a gambler. The song “Luck Be a Lady” is one of his most remembered songs as it was part of the movie Guys and Dolls. The plot revolves around Skye Masterson, a gambler hoping to win a bet that will also decide whether he’ll be able to save his relationship with the woman of his dreams.
Staking your whole relationship on the outcome of a bet is never a good idea. Still, Sinatra prays that, even when you’ve been foolish enough to do so, Lady Luck stays at your side.
“Shape of My Heart” – Sting
This sad ballad takes things a bit further, telling the story of a poker player who plays not to win, but to understand how luck and fate work. As a sort of card-playing philosopher, the song’s protagonist sees cards as tools to learn the secret of “the sacred geometry of chance”.
Maybe you’re not a philosopher yourself, but you can take your time studying the cards to understand how each of them fits into the greater scheme of combinations and probable outcomes. The best poker players don’t rely on luck, but study the game deeply enough to understand the relationship between each possible hand and result. Of course, this takes time and dedication, but the success of studious gamblers speaks for itself.
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Cover photos from Freepik.com