Kenny Rogers’ version of the song was released on November 1978 as a single from his seventh album, The Kenny Rogers Singles Album. This album was produced by Larry Butler under United Artists Records. It was popularly known in the UK, where it reached top 20 on the UK Albums chart.
Moreover, his version became number one on the country chart, and it made its way to the pop chart at a time when country songs rarely crossed over.
“The Gambler” was one of the best songs that Kenny Rogers had recorded. Thus, it was also considered as his signature song and his most enduring hit of all time. Upon the release of the song, it eventually sold thousands of copies nationwide.
In 1976, this song was written by Don Schlitz. Schlitz wrote this song when he was only 23 years old. Many music artists had recorded the song, but it took only one person to make it popular, and that is no other than Kenny Rogers. Schlitz and Johnny Cash had released their version, but only Kenny Rogers made the song a mainstream success.
About the Song
When we hear the word gambler, the first thing that pops into our mind is a person who takes a lot of risks. Similar to this song, it tells the story about the conversation between the narrator and an old poker player on a train. Where the gambler tells the narrator that he can give life advice to him in the form of poker metaphors.
The gambler gives advice to the narrator:
“You’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em. Know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table, There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done”
He added that:
“The secret to survivin’ is knowing what to throw away, and knowing what to keep” and that “the best you can hope is to die in your sleep”
After the gambler falls asleep, he did not wake up. Thus, those words he had spoken were his final words before he died.