The Gambler

Album: The Gambler (1978)
Charted: 16
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  • On a warm summer's eve
    On a train bound for nowhere
    I met up with the gambler
    We were both too tired to sleep
    So we took turns a-starin'
    Out the window at the darkness
    The boredom overtook us,
    And he began to speak

    He said, "Son, I've made a life
    Out of readin' people's faces
    Knowin' what the cards were
    By the way they held their eyes
    So if you don't mind me sayin'
    I can see you're out of aces
    For a taste of your whiskey
    I'll give you some advice"

    So I handed him my bottle
    And he drank down my last swallow
    Then he bummed a cigarette
    And asked me for a light
    And the night got deathly quiet
    And his faced lost all expression
    He said, "If you're gonna play the game, boy
    You gotta learn to play it right

    You've got to know when to hold 'em
    Know when to fold 'em
    Know when to walk away
    And know when to run
    You never count your money
    When you're sittin' at the table
    There'll be time enough for countin'
    When the dealin's done

    Every gambler knows
    That the secret to survivin'
    Is knowin' what to throw away
    And knowin' what to keep
    'Cause every hand's a winner
    And every hand's a loser
    And the best that you can hope for is to die
    in your sleep

    And when he finished speakin'
    He turned back toward the window
    Crushed out his cigarette
    And faded off to sleep
    And somewhere in the darkness
    The gambler he broke even
    But in his final words
    I found an ace that I could keep

    You've got to know when to hold 'em
    Know when to fold 'em
    Know when to walk away
    And know when to run
    You never count your money
    When you're sittin' at the table
    There'll be time enough for countin'
    When the dealin's done

    You've got to know when to hold 'em (when to hold 'em)
    Know when to fold 'em (when to fold 'em)
    Know when to walk away
    And know when to run
    You never count your money
    When you're sittin' at the table
    There'll be time enough for countin'
    When the dealin's done

    You've got to know when to hold 'em
    Know when to fold 'em
    Know when to walk away
    And know when to run
    You never count your money
    When you're sittin' at the table
    There'll be time enough for countin'
    When the dealin's doneWriter/s: DON SCHLITZ
    Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
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Comments: 17

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenJpgfile: Yeah, what's the "ace that he could keep?" He told him what to know, but gave him no help in learning it.
  • Jpgfile from Galloping Hard On The PlainsEver notice how the old gambler never actually gives him any advice?
    "What can you tell me, friend?"
    "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em…"
    "Yeah yeah, I know that. But WHEN should I hold or fold?"
    "…know when to walk away, know when to run…"
    "When I'm several hands up? Or just a gut feeling?"
    "You never count your money…"
    "Oh, I'll know how much money I have. But when should I fold?"
    "…'til the dealin's done"
    "Look, mister, this is like Tommy Lasorda telling me I gotta know when to pitch to the batter and when to walk 'im. WHEN??"
    "You gotta know when to hold 'em…"
    "You mooched a cigarette, a lighter, and my last drop of liquor, and that's all you can tell me?"
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 29th 1978, "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; and seventeen weeks later on February 25th, 1979 it peaked at #16 {for 1 week} and spent 22 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on December 10th, 1978 it reached #1 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart; it was his third #1 record of the year, the other two were "Love or Something Like It" for 1 week and "Every Time Two Fools Collide", a duet with Dottie West, for 2 weeks...
    The song's composer, Don Schlitz, released his own version earlier in 1978; it peaked at #65 on the Hot Country Singles chart.
  • Scott from Bothell, WaAm I the only listener who ever wondered if the narrator murdered the gambler? ;-)
  • Luke from Manchester, United Kingdom- Dean, it's a JUKE Box as in "from a Juke Joint"
  • Shaun from Warrington, United KingdomA grand song and one that has got me through 32 years in an aggressive workplace, by knowing when to duck.
  • Jim from West Palm Beach, FlAn old simple CW tune that speaks to many people.
  • Hank Dahling from Fort Wayne , InThis song is played/ sung on the Hit TV show King of The Hill not once but twice!
  • Pep from Mexico, MexicoJust great one regardless of its meaning as of poker or life. cuts both ways.
  • Shawn from Green Bay, WiI know this is a poker anthem, but this song is not about poker; it is about life. The bridge is the thematic part of the song. It is saying none of us were dealt winner of loser lives. Our lives are what we make of them. You have to know what and who to throw away and what and who to keep. You have to know when to go for it, when to fold, when to walk away, and when to run. Classic song with a great message.
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI didn't know The Gambler died in his sleep.that's the way to go in your sleep.One of my favorite songs! It was used in the Muppet show,I want all seasons of The Muppet show,Kenny Rogers,Star Wars,Lynda Carter,Cheryl Ladd,and Christopher Reeve.
  • Dean from Sydney,What a great song to put on the duke box in the pub. A real drinking ditty. P.S. Guy, they don't 'hurry' the last bar, it's a syncopation which I don't think works as well recorded as it would in a live performance.
  • Scott from Boston, MaOne of my dad's friends sings this everytime there's karaoke at a cookout or party and it got me addicted to this song. I'm not a big country fan or a big Kenny Rogers fan, but I love this song. I'm 18 and I sing it every time I play poker w/ my friends and they just stare at me.
  • Jeff from Austin, TxThis song is the reason I started playing poker about 25 years ago. I was a very impressionable 6 yr old
  • Josh from TorontoOnly compared to a few songs in my walk down Memory Lane...in my Grampa's car which I was in near every day, he would play that too often, and whenever we played cards together. The metaphors in this mean nothing to me-just the beat, the sound and the good memories. Every time I hear this song I just stop what I'm doing and listen.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaWeird how they hurry the dialog on the very last phrase.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaFun story song. Replete with evey poker metaphor on earth. Still, kind fun & catchy.
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