Music to Poker: Introducing Famous Musicians Who Dabble in the Art of Poker

Musicians enjoy hobbies when they’re not making music or on tour, and one popular pastime is playing poker. This classic poker cards game involves luck and strategy and is played by almost 200 million people worldwide. 

Many musicians are drawn to the game due to its popularity. While not all successful poker-playing musicians publicly discuss their love for the game, some notable figures have impressive poker skills.


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Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra, a legend in the music industry, was also part of the poker community. He frequently participated in poker games while achieving immense success as a musician, selling over 150 million records. Sinatra entertained audiences and played poker whenever he had the opportunity to do so at various establishments.

Steve Aoki

Steve Aoki, a well-known DJ, is a member of the poker community and has hosted several big charity poker tournaments. He has also worked as a commentator for the World Series of Poker and describes himself as a poker fanatic. Additionally, Aoki is known to be a good friend of Phil Ivey, a legend in the game. Aoki’s unique characteristics include his long hair and habit of throwing cakes into the crowd.

Scott Ian

Scott Ian, a thrash metal pioneer, created a distinctive style that has inspired countless guitarists today. After winning a charity poker tournament on VH-1 in 2006, he pursued poker more seriously as a player. He has since competed in prestigious poker events like the World Series of Poker championships and the Aruba Poker Classic, showcasing his card game skills.

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Joni Mitchell

While Mitchell is not the first musician to draw inspiration from flush poker, she is arguably the most skilled at it. In her song “Help Me” from 1974, Mitchell portrays her lover as carefree. In “Song for Sharon,” poker is a prolonged metaphor for how easily her significant other can disrupt her emotional balance. Mitchell explains that although she remains composed during games of chance, matters of love and relationships tend to destabilize her.

Joni Mitchell’s songwriting skills were recently honored at the 44th Kennedy Center Honors. Her love for playing poker helped her write some of her iconic songs, as the game taught her to stay calm and think analytically under pressure. These skills came in handy not only in her love life but also in her music writing process.



JAY-Z was rumored to have lost $500,000 in a poker game. However, he has improved his skills since then. Initially, he could have been more talented, but he adopted one of the best tactics to improve, i.e., networking with other players. Although poker is generally considered a solitary game, many skilled players suggest that building connections with other players is crucial to enhancing one’s proficiency.

Although JAY-Z may have yet to participate in WSOP events, networking can be a vital poker strategy. JAY-Z has played poker with well-known stars like Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Hart, who have earned millions from the game. Perhaps some of their expertise has influenced JAY-Z, as he now arranges charity poker events.


Nelly recently made headlines for his new country-inspired album Heartland, a follow-up to his 2000 album Country Grammar. This is his first musical production in quite some time. In addition to his music career, Nelly has been busy with his businesses, non-profit initiatives, and love of poker. 

He has a bankroll of up to $500,000 and has competed in some of the world’s most prestigious poker events, including the World Series. While he didn’t make it to the final table, his card abilities were good enough to earn him a place in the tournament.


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Liv Boeree

Liv Boeree is a skilled musician who was the lead guitarist for the bands Nemhain and Dissonance. However, she is also widely recognized as a highly successful poker player, perhaps even the most successful among musicians. Boeree initially competed in several commercial tournaments and eventually won a staggering $1,698,000 cash prize. 

In 2010, Liv won the European Poker Tournament and succeeded in the professional poker circuit. Due to her success, she gained the nickname “Iron Maiden.” Liv is also notable for being the first female player to win a European Poker Tournament and World Series of Poker titles.


Last September, Drake curated music for ESPN’s Monday Night Football as he is a big sports fan. He also enjoyed playing Poker and welcomed the new year in 2021 by playing the game in the Bahamas with Lil Baby and Meek Mill. 

Although the exact amounts are unknown, onlookers claimed that the Grammy-winning artist was betting vast sums of money. The two Canadians who took a selfie with Phil Hellmuth, a famous poker player, have a connection through the headphone company MuzikConnect. Whether they play cards together is unclear, but they may have shared their experiences privately.

Justin Vernon

Although Justin Vernon is well-known as the creative force behind the indie-rock band Bon Iver, some may need to be aware that their debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was recorded in 2007 using guitars, microphones, and a laptop. Vernon relocated back to his home state of Wisconsin from North Carolina before starting work on the album, having experienced several difficulties. 

Vernon experienced a series of unfortunate events before deciding to drive home. These included a break-up with his long-time girlfriend, contracting mono, and losing $220 while playing online poker. The album’s closing track, “Re-Stacks,” references these events.

Final Thoughts

Many people, including musicians, enjoy being a poker player as a hobby. The game’s combination of strategy and chance makes it a thrilling challenge. As online poker grows in popularity, we may hear more songs inspired by the game. Despite appearing unrelated, poker and music share many similarities. 

The commonalities between playing music and poker are using your skills to outsmart your opponents, making quick decisions, and staying calm under pressure. Interestingly, some of the best poker players in the world are professional musicians. If you are a musician seeking a new challenge or exploring something new, consider trying poker.