The Gambler (song)
|Single by Kenny Rogers|
|from the album The Gambler|
|Released||November 15, 1978|
|Kenny Rogers singles chronology|
"The Gambler" is the title of a song written by Don Schlitz and recorded by American country music artist Kenny Rogers. It was released in November 1978 as the title track from his album The Gambler which won him the Grammy award for best male country vocal performance in 1980. Bobby Bare had recorded the song earlier that same year in his album BARE CBS KC35314 (1978). The song was written by Schlitz who had recorded it previously, and had charted at #65 on the country charts with it. It was one of five consecutive songs by Rogers to hit #1 on the Billboard country music charts. On the pop chart, the song made #16 in early 1979. Johnny Cash also performed this song.
The song itself tells the story of a late-night meeting on a train "bound for nowhere" between the narrator and an unnamed man who is the gambler. The gambler tells the narrator that he can tell he is down on his luck ("out of aces") by the look in his eyes and offers him advice in exchange for his last swallow of whisky. After the gambler takes the drink (and a cigarette), he gives the following advice:
|“||You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
The gambler then mentions that the "secret to survivin' is knowing what to throw away, and knowing what to keep" and that "the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep". At this point, the gambler puts out the cigarette and goes to sleep.
At the end of the song we are told that "somewhere in the darkness, the gambler, he broke even", and that the narrator finds "an ace that I could keep", in his final words. Rogers' rendition in an appearance on TV's Muppet Show indicates the gambler actually dies in his sleep when he "broke even".
Chart performance 
|Canada Adult Contemporary Tracks (RPM)||6|
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||2|
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||8|
|New Zealand (RIANZ)||29|
|UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)||22|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||16|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||3|
In popular culture 
It is the theme song used for Rogers' long running TV movie serial of the same name, in which he stars as a fictional professional poker player called Brady Hawkes. It was used in Episode 2 of BBC series Blackpool and in Episode 4 of the sixth season of the series Supernatural. It is also a favored song (and frequently sung by) Hank Hill of the animated series King of the Hill. Alvin and the Chipmunks covered this song with minor lyric changes for their 1981 album Urban Chipmunk. It also featured in Episode 23, "Beach Games", of the third season of The Office.
When Kenny guest-starred on The Muppet Show, this is the first song he performed. Kenny is shown seated on a train with three muppets, one of them The Gambler (portrayed by Jerry Nelson) Jerry sings most of "The Gambler's" dialog, then falls asleep just as Kenny sings. After he dies, The Gambler's spirit rises from his body, singing backup and dances to the song's last two choruses, and lets a deck of cards fly from his hand before fading away. The song was alluded to in Muppets From Space while Kermit, Rizzo, Clifford, and Pepe were playing a game of poker.
In the series Leverage, Sophie claims she is living according to the rules of The Gambler.
In the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Program, it serves as the official anthem of the Gunnery Trade and is sung during moments of great happiness and during chaining ceremonies.
The song has been cited as a source of inherent wisdom.
On July 21, 2009, the song was released for the music game Rock Band as a playable track as part of the "Rock Band Country Track Pack" compilation disc. It was then made available via digital download on Dec 29, 2009.
- Reader's digest almanac and yearbook, 1981, p. 274
- "Charts.org.nz – Kenny Rogers – The Gambler". Top 40 Singles. Hung Medien.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- Kenny Rogers UK Charts history, The Official Charts. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
- You've Gotta Know When to Fold'Em[PDF] from concordia.ca. GE Miller… - Psychological Science, 2007 - pss.sagepub.com
"On My Knees"
by Charlie Rich and Janie Fricke
|Billboard Hot Country Singles
December 16-December 30, 1978
by Don Williams