When it comes to songs about card games, metalheads are not exactly spoiled for choice.

When you think of songs about poker, tunes such as The Gambler by Kenny Rogers and Poker Face by Lady Gaga spring to mind, both are good songs in their own right, but they fit a certain genre, namely pop or country. Many songs about poker fall into this genre, with very few out-and-out metal songs taking on the subject.

There are good metal songs out there that seem to be based on poker, whilst there are some with metal influences that you might not have heard before. Oddly, it is a genre where very few bands seem to explore the popular card game, whilst others such as country music are littered with such references. You can imagine games of poker in the old Wild West, but as it is as popular today as ever, it is a surprise more modern artists don’t broach the subject in their music. There’s something quite intense about poker that would seem suited to a heavy riff and plenty of vicious drums.

With this in mind, we have selected a handful of poker-related songs for you to enjoy, all of which can be turned up loud and played by a proud metalhead.

Metal-Songs-with-a-Poker-Flavor---Live-Show
Metal Songs with a Poker Flavor

Credit: Unsplash

Ace of Spades – Motörhead

It’s an obvious choice, but the Ace of Spades is the quintessential heavy metal poker song from a band that influenced a significant number of today’s metal artists. It was released in 1980 and was described by the late, great Lemmy as an excuse to get as many gaming references as possible into a single song. There is a blackjack reference or two in there, as well as mention of the fabled poker cards referred to as the Dead Man’s Hand, which we’ll come onto later. Ideally, the song would have been about slot machines, but in his autobiography, Lemmy said: “I’m more into the one-arm bandits actually, but you can’t really sing about spinning fruit, and the wheels coming down.”

Queen of Hearts – Saxon

While not directly a poker song, a certain poker element runs through the 2015 Saxon release. It’s certainly heavy enough to qualify for the list, coming later in the band’s history after their hiatus from the metal sound in the mid-eighties. The song is loosely based on some of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland themes, incorporating some chess, too. However, with lyrics like “trapped inside the player’s web, of cunning and deceit”, there’s a definite poker theme in the song, intended or otherwise.

Aces and Eights – Uncle Kracker

Uncle Kracker, otherwise known as Matt Shafer, isn’t a traditional metal musician, but he certainly toyed with the style as part of Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown trucker band. He played on tracks such as American Badass, which sampled Metallica’s Sad But True and he became a solo artist. His debut album, Double Wide, featured this brooding, rock-influenced track. The Dead Man’s Hand is traditionally known as aces and eights of black suits, which legend has it was the final hand of Wild Bill Hickock before he was shot dead. Those familiar with poker hand rankings know that’s not a bad hand, especially if the last card was an ace or eight of another suit. The legend suggests the hole card was the queen of hearts, meaning Hickock had two pairs, although versions of the story differ wildly.

The Jack – AC/DC

https://youtu.be/kq_GSIw0X0w

The Jack, released in 1975, certainly uses plenty of poker slang as a reference point, and although there are plenty of card references, it is worth noting that there is an undercurrent here. The song is actually about a disease; we’ll leave it up to you to decide which one. AC/DC used poker analogies to portray their message, such as ‘she was holding a pair, but I had to try, her deuce was wild, but my ace was high’.