In the early days of televised poker, a pair of sunglasses was pretty much the only accessory you’d see in the casino. Not because it’s sunny in there, and not because the lights are too bright, but of course to prevent giving away any tells to the rest of the table. After the sunglasses, the masks and ridiculous hats appeared, but then kind of went away when people saw how stupid they looked. Now, the two most likely accessories you’ll see at any major tournament are still shades, but also a pair of headphones.
Just like any other skill, listening to music can sometimes help people to concentrate, or in the world of poker, to block out the constant hum of people talking, or that really annoying guy at the table who shouts WOOOOO every time he wins a round. But what exactly are poker players listening to at the tables.
Mo Money Mo Problems
From the Diana Ross hook to the tight bars from Diddy (known back then as, ahem, Puff Daddy), to the big entrance from the man himself, it’s hard not to feel happy when this 21-year-old banger from the Notorious B.I.G. comes on. Best reserved for times when things really aren’t going well, or are actually going very well, the refrain “I don’t know what they want from me, it’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see” are particularly inspiring if you’ve just won £4.
The happy story about Warren G and Nate Dogg running into a ‘few problems’ while playing street dice, before riding off into the sunset with some local ladies is really easy to relate to if you’re gambling yourself. You’ll not only feel super cool as you place your chips and flip over your cards, but lines like ‘I’m gettin jacked, I’m breakin myself, I can’t believe they’re taking Warren’s wealth, they took my rings, they took my rolex, I looked at the brothas and said “damn, what’s next?” will certainly come in handy when you get soundly beaten by a bigger boy or girl.
$ave Dat Money
Lil Kim, Lil Wayne, and now Lil Dicky (!) have all sang about money, but in this ‘hit’ from 2015 featuring Fetty Wap, the message couldn’t be clearer; stop buying shit and save your money. The refrain “Ay, we gon’ save that money, ay, we gon’ save that money, ay, we gon’ save that money, what we do? We gone save that money” not only serves as great advice for loose poker players who really don’t need to go in on every hand, but also to young people who should really think about their futures.
The Clan are no strangers to a tune, but this thoughtful number is pretty thought provoking, with Cash Rules Everything Around Me the perfect adage to take into a poker game. The greatest Hip Hop group of all time didn’t hold back on this one and substituting the raw feelings around dealing drugs and buying bling (then getting caught and going to jail) may just be the inspiration you need to work harder and win more games.
m.A.A.d city covered everything from boozing, to drugs, to clapping fools, but the melodic track all about going from rags to riches is pretty inspirational stuff. It’s also super-laid back, so you could genuinely add this to a calm playlist if the pressure is on. Omaha is renowned for big hands and even bigger draws, meaning you need to keep your head when all of your opponents are losing theirs – the perfect song for the occasion then.
Aside from the absolutely golden song title that gives great instructions poker players of all levels, the words behind this 2005 reserved Hip Hop track featuring the Notorious B.I.G. once again (he really loved rapping about money) is great fuel for long poker sessions where it’s easy to lose track of why you’re playing hand after hand after hand after hand.
If you’re an online poker player, then music is an absolute must. A decent playlist will help you to concentrate and have more fun. But no matter how good your selection is, it’s pointless if you’re grafting away at a poker site that isn’t getting result or isn’t user friendly.
It Was A Good Day
According to Mr Cube himself, the perfect day described in this 1993 classic actually happened and loads of people have tried to figure out when it might have been. From winning at bones to hitting it off with a young lady who had been a crush since high school, it’s impossible not to feel good listening to this dreamy track with tight lyrics. For poker players, it’s a great chilled track that will help you to focus, plus there might be a bit of serendipity if a big win turns your day into a good one.
Get Dealt With
Mobb Deep’s aggressive brand of hip hop really gets your blood flowing. A bit of adrenaline in a poker game can be a good thing and everything from the brutal beat and bassline to the super-angry lyrics will put you in a place where you can make bold moves and bully others out of the game.
The line “You’re small mi-nute, gotta death to deal with aces up, you overbidded and in the Bridge you go stuck, this ain’t a card game but in perspective it’s the same, put two and two together-Mobb Deep with one name” shows just how embedded gambling an cards was with early hip hop, so channel your inner Prodigy and imagine there’s more than just a few quid at stake as you listen to this one.
Hopefully this list should give you some ideas for your next poker playlist, but remember that just like poker, you’ll need different tactics for different situations. Putting hyper-aggressive Wu-Tang Clan tracks on at the start of a game might see you running out of chips pretty quickly, but too much slow-style Bone Thugs-n-Harmony might put you to sleep when you need your head in the game!