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There have been many songs about gambling over the years – some of them sublime and some right at the other end of the spectrum.

Here are five all-time greats for different reasons.

The Clash’s Three Card Trick isn’t one of their best-known songs, which is a shame as it deserves to be. In fact, for many Clash aficionados the track is the best from the album that saw them at their absolute peak in 1979; “London Calling”. The song is a metaphor for Britain’s decline of empire; a poker player forced to his knees and shot dead. Once you realise what the song is really about – it’s never the same again and is darkly wonderful poetry.

A far more obvious song, but equally good in its own way is Frank Sinatra’s Luck be a Lady; a tribute to the town where he spent so much of his middle-aged life; Las Vegas. Sinatra loved gambling and loved the city and his contretemps with Vegas’s top Casino bosses and pit bosses were legendary.

Another song about Vegas (which, by the way, you hear all the time if you visit the city, which can quickly dispel your love for it!) is Elvis’s Viva Las Vegas penned by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.
The song was purpose-written the king’s fourteenth movie – a tribute film to Vegas. Funnily enough, though, it was only when the Dead Kennedys came out with their own version during the 80s that the sing began to get widespread recognition and airtime. Today, the song is very much Las Vegas’s unofficial anthem.

Another great is Ray Charles’ Blackjack. Ray wrote the sing after winning all the stake money of one T-Bone Walker when playing Blackjack. Ray promised T-Bone he’d pen a song about the whole thing and was as good as his word writing a true classic.
Incidentally, to see professional players playing today for winner takes all poker tournaments; if you go to Full Tilt Poker, you’ll see how then pros do it. This is the only one of the well-known poker websites established by professional players themselves – and it’s this that sets it apart from the rest. Whether it will inspire a song is quite another matter though, and what type is a different thing again.

Because completely the other end of the spectrum from Ray Charles’ soulful lyrics and phrasing is the altogether more raucous and rasping Ace Of Spades by Motörhead – unforgettable vocals by Stoke-on-Trent’s finest, Lemmy, of course.

This is truly a case of “once heard, never forgotten”. The hit from 1980 is widely thought to be the song that defines Motörhead more than any other. Wherever they have ever played since 1980, it’s the one that all fans know and always gets a huge reception. It’s truly the Motörhead anthem.

Incidentally, the lyrics are really about the “dead man’s hand”. Legend has it that this was the hand held by Wild Bill Hicock when he was shot dead playing poker and is made up of aces (including the ace of spades) and eights.

Today, this is one of the legendary Texas holdem hands, and is either considered to be wildly lucky or unlucky depending on whether you’re a glass half full or glass half empty type of poker player – and maybe whether you love or hate Lemmy and Motörhead!



Is just a guy who got tired of bothering his friends talking about music, and decided to create a blog to write about what he loves the most.
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