It was a lot of fun going thru the list of poker and gambling songs. I agree with the top two songs on the list – “The Gambler” by Kenny Rodgers and “Poker Face” by Lady Ga Ga. I also love “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” by Frank Sinatra and “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis. Having said that, I personally favor two gambling songs that not a lot of people have ever heard – one of which I wrote. I’ll get to them in a bit.
That’s probably the favorite gambling song of all poker players. I mean, what poker player doesn’t sing along with, “You’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em…” And “Poker Face” is the newest and most recognizable song on the list, certainly by younger players.
The two songs I really love are about two legends in the poker world, Hall of Famer’s Amarillo Slim and Puggy Pearson. Only a number of old school guys had the privilege of hearing these songs, and locating recordings of these songs today is probably not too easy.
In the ’80’s, Amarillo Slim hosted a huge poker tournament (most of the years in Lake Tahoe) called Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker. It was a great event and all the top poker players attended. During the tournament, some of the players (with Chip Reese leading the charge) would holler, “Play the song! Play the song!” And they would then play the ‘Amarillo Slim Song’ (and the room would erupt whenever the song was played). The chorus verse was, “Whether playing cards, ping-pong, or shooting baskets in the gym, you don’t mess around with Amarillo Slim.” If anyone out there has a copy of Amarillo Slim’s song, please contact me as I’d love to hear it again, and again, and again.
Quite the artist myself…
Years ago, I wrote a song about Puggy Pearson called, “Puggy Pearson, King of the Gambling World”. It was basically a song about his life story ending with his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. Puggy loved the song. He was so thankful that I wrote it.
The chorus of the song was: “Pug-gy, Pug-gy Pearson, King of the Gambling World” (and was sung to the theme of the Davy Crockett song – who if you’ve never heard of, you should Google). Here’s an example of a few of the lines of Puggy’s song (and the chorus is sung between every verse):
“Born in a shack in the hills of Tennesse, he was one out of nine in a big family. Dropped out of school when in the 4th grade, and when he was 16, he joined the Navy.”
(Chorus) “Pug-gy, Pug-gy Pearson, King of the Gambling World”.
You learn about his hustling, Navy days, and his venture to Las Vegas. As you learn how good he was at things like poker, pool, and golf, a line in the song comes from an interview about his golf game:
“A reporter once said, How good do you play? ‘I shoot whatever it takes to get the money that day’. Pug-gy, Pug-gy Pearson. King of the Gambling World.”
** Only a number of old school guys are privileged enough to have heard those songs. And I was one of them.
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