Hey guys! Hope your New Year is off to a great start! When I was 5, I recorded two songs – “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and the other one was … “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers! When I find these old recordings, I will link to them. Over these last few weeks I’ve been reminiscing about how I was brought up listening to country music and came to love it. I recently came across this article that mentions Kenny Rogers and some other well-known names. Enjoy!
It was nearly 40 years ago that living country legend Kenny Rogers outlined the similarities between the game of poker and life as we know it with his classic single, “The Gambler.” Since then, there have been very few songs in the same style, that being a larger discussion of life tied to a card game such as poker. It could very well be that Rogers’ song is such an untouchable anthem that artists are afraid to even attempt a like-minded track. That’s not stopping some of country’s biggest stars from playing the actual game, however, with a few in particular surely making Rogers proud in the process.
First, let’s look to a lesser-known artist, Tommy Angelo. Despite not being a household name, the Columbus, Ohio native has a fairly strong résumé when it comes to playing with some of the biggest names in country. While he has put his musical career on hold for another path, he has shared the stage with the likes of Willie Nelson and Randy Travis. Angelo has also released several albums under different aliases, including the more recent I’m Running Bad that dives into true love: poker. As noted on his website, he went pro in 1990 after playing the game for many years, and he’s since become a poker coach and author.
And then there’s the wildly popular Brad Paisley, who may not have the poker chops of Angelo but (does when it comes to playing guitar and) clearly enjoys playing the game when he finds the time. As this article points out, Paisley has apparently been enjoying the card game for years now, especially as a way to wind down on the tour bus. He admitted to being a “pretty good player,” while noting that members of his band (fiddle player and steel guitar player) are pretty talented, too. The same, unfortunately, couldn’t be said for then-tour mate Josh Thompson.
In that same article, Thompson revealed that he had to stop joining the post-concert poker games for fear of draining his bank account. In reference to how his skills didn’t stack up to Paisley’s, Thompson said, “It [was] like me bringing a .22 caliber to pretty much a whole war with machine guns and tanks and cannons … why would I do that?” It definitely sounds like he could have benefited from either playing more or gaining a better understanding of how to play the game, the latter of which he could accomplish here. The same can be said for anyone else thinking of playing against Paisley, as the guy’s clearly got some poker chops.
And then there’s Darius Rucker, who could also be found playing games with Paisley during their time on the road. In fact, they have even joked about their highly competitive matches on Twitter. Most recently, however, Rucker has been involved in the more charitable side of poker. As noted here, he took part in the 2014 MPIC Sundance Celebrity Charity Poker Tournament.
Now, while these may not be all of the country artists who enjoy a game of poker every now and then, these are certainly some of the most influential. That’s especially true of Tommy Angelo, who went on to be perhaps the most successful musician-turned-poker player ever.