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From Lemmy Kilmister to Gaga: Musical Aces and their love of Poker

Why Do So Many Musicians Play Poker?

Over the years there have been many musicians who have taken to the poker table away from the bright lights of the stage and the glare of their adoring fans. For many years it’s been a pastime of some of the biggest stars both past and present.

Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, Scott Ian from Anthrax, and Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead all found the time to have a stint at the table and that’s just a shortlist of some of the names from the music industry. With the sheer number of musicians who love nothing more than going all-in, there’s little doubt it will be something that continues for years to come. But why is it that they’re taken in by the game?

Whilst some may not think it, music is as competitive an arena as almost any sport. It’s also a bit of a hustle, with everyone vying for the attention of fans across the world. Artists look to get their music out to as many people as possible and aim to lure fans in with their new sounds. It could be said that brings a host of similarities to poker, there’s of course the thrill of the competition, but the subtle nuances of language from the lyrics to the marketing of the music which could give them an advantage over their peers. Put that into the realm of poker and as Tom Popomaronis suggests psychological tactics are used to gain an advantage, as players aim for their opponent to wilt at their seemingly unerring powers of persuasion… Your next record is better than theirs, isn’t it?

The game is easy to pick up, it doesn’t need a host of facilities or equipment to play so on those long coach trips or numerous plane flights across the world, which can include regular visits to cities synonymous with gaming, musicians can easily pick up the game. Naturally the good players will see a lot of money crossing the table on those flights and one of the keys to playing no-limit Texas Hold’em — the most popular variety of poker — is to go into games with a big bankroll.

But straying away from the competitive side of things, there is a certain stillness and anonymity if you will to a game of poker. It’s not uncommon to see musicians hiding their intentions behind sunglasses and under a cap, away from the glaring flash of the cameras or the intense stare of the proverbial limelight. Not many people really get bothered at the poker table, as players concentrate on what is happening on the table rather than focus on the players sat around it. Meaning that they are almost hiding in plain sight, which in itself could be something which they particularly enjoy.

Poker is competitive, easy to pick up and play and can also offer an escape from what is their perceived normality, after all it’s also served as inspiration for Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett in their music too. So it’s not too difficult a stretch to see why it has been a staple of musicians over decades and will continue to do so for quite some time to come.


Art by : The Brain Jam

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