Kenny Rogers: What The Gambler Lyrics Teach About Life


As I sit here today in my era of life working in social work going about my normal routine, I look on the television to see people bombing each other, political tensions, and fighting everywhere. Fighting for beliefs, fighting for credibility, or just simply fighting because it is what they are paid to do. And then ironically being exhausted thinking about all this fighting……. the thought of Kenny Rogers pops in my head with the chorus from the song, “The Gambler!”  

With the current atmosphere in the world I work in, ironically enough, I see a correlation between this song and social work, so my quirky, but professional self feels the urge to write about it and compare it as a mechanism one can use when making business decisions or decisions about life. The battles we choose to fight determines the amount of peace we choose to live in, what’s more important to you?

This is a song that fought for itself: it went through two artists in Nashville, Bobby Bare and Johnny Cash before Kenny Rogers skyrocketed it to win him a Grammy in 1980. I cherish this song not because it was teaching lessons about gambling, but subconsciously, it actually teaches lessons about life.

In all fairness with gambling set aside……the song is based upon someone who is mentoring someone else when they are obviously needing help even though they have no prior relationship. Life should be like that. Making people stronger around you, makes you stronger.

Too often than not, I see people taking unfair advantage of others who seek guidance, support, or partnerships. We work in an industry where patients and the community depend on us to help them and with all the turnover in the industry, we all should be, “Working Together, To Rise Together,” to help the greater good. I have had people say to me, it’s like that in EVERY industry and I agree to a certain extent, but because we have a direct effect on the lives of people, it should not exist in the Social Working Industry. Sadly enough, it does and I pray so hard one day it will change. 

The Gambler Advice

“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run,”

Pick your battles. Does this path you are following lead you to a place where you can be proud and your beliefs won’t be compromised? If not, “walk away,” or “fold them.”  If you’re not sure, “Hold em,” meaning take as much time as you need to think about it if you’re not completely sure and don’t feel bad about doing so.

“You never count your money, when your sittin at the table, there be time enough for countin, when the dealins done.”

Don’t make a decision before you have all the information to know if the decision you make is going to have the most value for you. If you decide too early, the path you think your on, may turn out to be a path not in line with your values.

“Now every Gambler knows that the secret to surviving, is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. Cos every hands a winner and every hands a loser and the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

Making good or bad decisions  isn’t the decision particularly itself, but it is about the outcomes of those decisions and who all it is going to affect good or bad and for how long. Is it really worth it and what is at stake of losing or gaining? Is the long-term loss going to outweigh the short-term gain?

Oddly enough, you can simply mantra yourself with the complex situations you have now from these lyrics to assess, “ Is it really worth your value to stay on the path you’re on?”  Following your heart does have value and does mean something, what are your odds and is what you are fighting for really worth your value and beliefs for the long-term game?”