The Gambler — Kenny Rogers

On a warm summer’s evening
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with a gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-staring
Out the window at the darkness
‘Til boredom overtook us
And he began to speak

He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of reading people’s faces
And knowing what their cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind my saying
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 face lost all expression
Said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right”

You 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 sitting at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealing’s done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to surviving
Is knowing what to throw away
And knowing 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 speaking
He turned back towards 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 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 sitting at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealing’s done

Jonathan Archer
About Jonathan Archer 18 Articles
Jonathan Archer is an editorial contributor to Lee Legal. He is currently pursuing a degree in international relations and lives in Alexandria, Virginia.