Gambling has always been a popular activity throughout history, and it comes as no surprise that it has inspired so many famous quotations, expressions, stories, and song lyrics. We've gathered our favorite quotes about gambling for your reading pleasure. If you’re a casino player, the odds are that you’ll love these famous gambling quotes.

what is life if not a gamble

Famous Gambling Quotes in Books

You’ll find many famous quotes about gambling in books. Authors often use gambling and casino quotes to describe events in a novel. The risk and uncertainty in gambling make a great metaphor for a story and in life as well.

“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” - Jack London, American Novelist

Writers also use casinos or popular gambling cities like Las Vegas as the setting of their stories. Famous novels such as Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, and The Gambler by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky each take place in a casino and contain some great gambling sayings. Here are a few of our favorite gambling quotations from popular novels:

“Bond didn't defend the practice. He simply maintained that the more effort and ingenuity you put into gambling, the more you took out.” – Ian Fleming, Casino Royale

casino royale

Ian Flemings’s Casino Royale became a major motion picture in 2006 starring Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Written in 26 days, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Gambler takes place in the imaginary German town of Roulettenberg, based on the real life Kurhaus Casino Baden-Baden, one of the world’s oldest casinos.

Is it really not possible to touch the gaming table without being instantly infected by superstition? – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler

Of course, many gamblers can validate Dostoyevsky’s claim. Who doesn’t have their own tricks and gambling superstitions to bring luck at the casino?

Deemed the father of American fiction, Mark Twain was also a talented poker player and often mentioned gambling in his novels. In one of his famous quotes about gambling, he mixes in a bit of his own humor:

"Baccarat is a game whereby the croupier gathers in money with a flexible sculling oar, then rakes it home. If I could have borrowed his oar I would have stayed." - Mark Twain

Contemporary literature also features many gambling sayings. In 1999 Chuck Palahniuk published Invisible Monsters after the success of his first novel Fight Club. The book has a great gambling quote with the perfect description of Las Vegas:

Las Vegas looks the way you’d imagine heaven looks like at night” – Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

las vegas night

Many famous gambling quotes refer to Las Vegas.

Of course, we can’t mention gambling quotes without talking about Hunter S. Thompson’s cult classic novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In between his lurid descriptions of drug use, Thompson gives an inside look at the exciting atmosphere inside a historic Las Vegas casino, Circus-Circus, during the 1960s:

The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the sixth Reich. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos . . .but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish Carnival madness is going on up in this space. – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
fear and loathing in las vegas

Quotes from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas paint a picture of Vegas during the 1960s.


Gambling expressions don’t just appear on the pages of books. The love of gambling has also inspired many major motion pictures. When it comes to the big screen, James Bond gambling quotes aren’t the only ones to be found. Plenty of gambling related movies tell stories of betting or take place in a casino and feature a few of our favorite quotes about gambling.

In 1957, Frank Sinatra starred in The Joker Is Wild, a musical drama film about a nightclub singer who loses his voice and turns to gambling:

“Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks – It says, Goodbye.” - Frank Sinatra, The Joker Is Wild

Apparently, Ol’ Blues Eyes’ character didn’t have much luck playing the tables in Vegas. That wasn’t the case however, for Paul Newman in the 1986 film, The Color of Money. Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Color of Money stars Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. The 1986 sequel to The Hustler continues the story of a stakehorse that wins big betting on pool.

"A dollar won is twice as sweet as a dollar earned." - Paul Newman, The Color of Money

color of money

Paul Newman talks about winning money on the right bets in The Color of Money.

Any of us who have won a pretty penny at the casino can surely relate to his gambling quote.

Gambling Quotes in Songs

Beyond the big screen, you can find gambling quotes everywhere, especially in the lyrics of songs. Dozens of popular songs contain lyrics about gambling, refer to wild times in Las Vegas, tell stories of professional gamblers, or even use gambling expressions as a metaphor on life. Take for example the classic Grateful Dead song, Truckin’:

"You've got to play your hand. Sometimes your cards ain't worth a dime, if you don't lay'em down.” - The Grateful Dead, Truckin’

Many would consider Bob Dylan as one of the best songwriters to ever live. In his song Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Willie, Dylan tells the story of a lifelong professional gambler who traveled the country playing cards:

“Come around you rovin’ gamblers and a story I will tell about the greatest gambler, you all should know him well. His name was Will O’Conley and he gambled all his life. He had twenty-seven children, yet he never had a wife… He won a fortune from a man who folded his chair. The man, he left a diamond flush, Willie didn’t even have a pair.” - Bob Dylan, Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Willie

Indeed, no performer has become more synonymous with Las Vegas than Elvis Presley. “The King” spent a large part of his careerin Vegas, performing regularly for seven years and selling out 837 consecutive shows. He recorded the song Viva Las Vegas in 1963 as an homage to his favorite gambling town:

“Oh there’s blackjack and poker and the roulette wheel, a fortune won and lost on every deal”. - Elvis, Viva Las Vegas

Funny Casino Quotes

Aside from song lyrics, you can also get a good laugh from funny casino quotes.

One of these comes from the late, great comedian, Mitch Hedberg, who had a funny way of looking at his gambling habit:

"I like to play blackjack. I'm not addicted to gambling, I'm addicted to sitting in a semi-circle." - Mitch Hedberg

Dean Martin of the Rat Pack made a joke of his bad luck at the casino:

"When your opponent's sittin' there holdin' all the aces, there's only one thing to do: kick over the table." - Dean Martin

Actor and comedian, Artie Lang, combined gambling, drinking and religion into one funny casino quote:

"A weekend in Vegas without gambling and drinking is just like being a born-again Christian.” - Artie Lange

Famous poker player, VP Pappy, has a great sense of humor in addition to his great streaks of luck. Here’s one of his funny casino quotes:

"Casinos and prostitutes have the same thing in common; they are both trying to screw you out of your money and send you home with a smile on your face.” - VP Pappy

Actor and funnyman Paul Newman has some humorous advice for poker players:

"If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you." - Paul Newman

More Famous Gambling Quotes

All joking aside, gambling quotes can bring a lot more than just laughs. Some famous gambling quotes describe everything from life as we know it to life from the perspective of the universe.

One of the world’s most renowned physicists, Stephen Hawking, used a gambling quote to give profound descriptions of the universe. Here’s one of them:

"All the evidence shows that God was actually quite a gambler, and the universe is a great casino, where dice are thrown, and roulette wheels spin on every occasion." - Stephen Hawking

In one of his novels, Leo Tolstoy used a great gambling quote to describe a gentleman:

"A gentleman is a man who will pay his gambling debts even when he knows he has been cheated." - Leo Tolstoy

South African writer and journalist William Bolitho puts a sunny perspective on the life of a gambling man in this quote:

"A gambler is nothing but a man who makes his living out of hope." - William Bolitho

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that gambling inspires so many stories and expressions. When you really think about it, life is a lot like gambling. You may not win every hand, but it’s the risks you take in life that lead to the big payoff.