Within reason, there are hidden meanings to the lyrics of many popular and well-known songs.
Take Born in the U.S.A by Bruce Springsteen as an example. Without really taking in the lyrics, it is easy to conclude that the song is about American pride, whereas in fact it’s about the Vietnam War and the lack of appreciation towards the US soldiers upon their return.
There are numerous other songs that, either by their title or standout lyrics, will be expected to be about gambling. Instead, the gambling terminology is only a reference to other things.
Here are five examples:
Lady Gaga’s 2008 smash peaked at number one in 18 countries and starting lyrics of:
“I wanna hold ’em like they do in Texas plays
Fold ’em, let ’em, hit me, raise it baby stay with me”
Have obvious connotations with the casino games of poker and blackjack.
However, the singer later revealed that the real undertone of the lyric is the “poker facing” of her sexuality and the way she would sometimes be thinking about girls when making love to her boyfriend.
Yet, the boyfriend seems to have been bluffed by her poker face, being none the wiser to her thoughts and feelings.
“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”
Kenny Rogers’ 1970’s hit could easily be construed to be a song offering valuable gambling advice, whereas it is actually more of a metaphor for life in general.
Ultimately, it offers the insight that every decision a person makes or hand that they hold has the potential to be a winner or loser, as it does in the game of poker. It is the way that a person plays the hand life dealt them which dictates its outcome.
The same guidelines stand for poker where a player holding a 9-3 is more than capable of causing a rival to fold 10-10, despite it being much the stronger hand, if played in a particular way.
Ace of Spades
In most casino card games, a player would be more than happy to be dealt the ace of spaces. In blackjack it is halfway towards the perfect deal of 21, while in Texas Hold’em, there is a strong possibility that it will form part of a positive pre-flop hand.
Yet, in the recognisable Motorhead track, the ace of spades has connotations of being the death card. It is the card the person will eventually be dealt when their wild lifestyle eventually catches up with them.
“Pushing up the ante, I know you gotta see me
Read ’em and weep, the dead man’s hand again”
The dead man’s hand is widely considered to be a five-card poker hand containing the two black aces and two black eights, with the fifth hole card unknown. This was apparently the hand held by folk hero Wild Bill Hickok when murdered.
The Winner Takes It All
“I’ve played all my cards
And that’s what you’ve done too
Nothing more to say
No more ace to play”
Seen on their own, these lyrics from one of ABBA’s famous tracks could be seen as a player admitting that their challenge in a heads-up game of poker is over, having lost all of their chips.
Instead, it is about relationships and the fact that when two people begin a new romance, there are others with feelings left behind. The song is written from the perspective of the “loser” of the relationship.
The song was perceived to relate to two of the members of the group.
Four Little Diamonds
The likes of Evil Woman, Mr Blue Sky and Don’t Bring Me Down may be more identifiable songs from the back catalogue of ELO’s releases, but dig a bit deeper and this song of a person looking for a lost love crops up and the chase to get back a diamond ring.
Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with a player holding a royal flush draw at poker and all the emotions that come with the chase of owning a totally unbeatable hand.
For a player dealt suited cards at poker, there is a 6.25 per cent chance that they will complete a flush by the river and this increases to 19.2 per cent if a player holds four cards towards a flush on the flop. We never found out the percentage of the ring buyer getting back his diamond!