Written by Don Schlitz.
( Writers Night Music.)
From "Gone Girl", 1978, CBS.

About 20 years ago, on a train bound for nowhere,
I met up with The Gambler; We were both too tired to sleep.
So we took turns a starin' through the window at the darkness.
Til' boredom overtook us and he commenced to speak.

He said: "Son, I've made a life out of readin' people's faces,
"And knowin' what their cards were, by the way they held their eyes.
"And if you don't mind my sayin', I would say you're out of aces;
"And for one taste of your whiskey, I will give you some advice."

So I handed him my bottle, and he drank down my last swallow.
Then he bummed a cigarette; then he bummed a light.
The night got deathly quiet and his face lost all expression.
He said: "If you're gonna play the game, boy, you better learn to play it right."

"'Cos ev'ry gambler knows that the secret to survival,
"Is knowin' what to throw away and knowin' what to keep.
"And ev'ry hand's a winner, just like ev'ry hand's a loser.
"And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.

"You got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em.
"Know when to walk away; know when to run.
"You don't ever count your money while you're sittin' at the table.
"There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin' is done."

"You got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em.
"Know when to walk away; know when to run.
"You don't ever count your money while you're sittin' at the table.
"There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin' is done."

And when he finished speakin', he turned back t'ward the window.
Put out his cigarette; faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness, the gambler he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.


"You got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em.
"Know when to walk away; know when to run.
"You don't ever count your money while you're sittin' at the table.
"There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin' is done."

"You got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em.
"Know when to walk away; know when to run.
"You don't ever count your money while you're sittin' at the table.
"There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin' is done."

"You got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em.
"Know when to walk away; know when to run.
"You don't ever count your money while you're sittin' at the table.
"There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin' is done."
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The Gambler Lyrics

Johnny Cash – The Gambler Lyrics

Songwriters: HART, LORENZ / RODGERS, RICHARD
The Gambler lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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