Who knew Stormzy and Joni Mitchell loved to play poker?
Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world, and it’s continuing to reach even more audiences. With the increasing adoption of smartphones and the availability of casino gaming platforms online, researchers estimate that the market size for online poker, bingo, and other activities will reach a combined value of $127.3 billion by 2027.
What may come as a surprise is how many musicians, rappers, and artists love to play the game in their free time as well. Across genres, there seems to be a strong connection between poker and music. Canadian indie pop band Peach Pit’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist Neil Smith, for instance, declared poker to be one of his biggest hobbies outside of music. Smith joins the ranks of other poker-playing musicians, such as:
Folk singer Joni Mitchell is one of the most esteemed and influential songwriters of all time. With eight Grammy wins and 19 studio albums, her prolific creativity is something many artists aspire to emulate. Mitchell has a well-documented love for three things: painting, poetry, and poker. Mitchell was regularly involved in cash games on tour, and played most Monday evenings at The Eagles’ Glenn Frey’s home.
Naturally, references to poker games crept up in her lyrics. She often used poker metaphors to describe the different thrills and pitfalls of a dramatic relationship. “Song for Sharon” alludes to Mitchell’s poker skills. Described by Rolling Stone as a 10-verse, no-chorus stunner, “Song for Sharon” has Mitchell singing: “I can keep my cool at poker/But I’m a fool when love’s at stake/Because I can’t conceal emotion/What I’m feeling’s always written on my face.”
Justin Vernon is best known as indie folk band Bon Iver’s frontman and primary songwriter. Although Bon Iver enjoys plenty of success as a group — they’ve won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album — Vernon also works independently on various collaborations and projects. Who would have thought, though, that being a fish in poker could lead to a successful music career?
A fish is a less-experienced, weaker player when compared to poker veterans, and Justin Vernon was definitely a fish back in 2006. Vernon had lost $220 on a bad hand playing poker online, which was all the money he had at the time. Following that incident (along with other disappointments), Vernon decided to move to his father’s hunting cabin in Wisconsin to live in isolation. There, he began writing the songs for what will be Bon Iver’s debut studio album For Emma, Forever Ago and the rest is history.
Acclaimed British rapper Stormzy is one of the biggest names in the grime genre, helping to move it from London’s backstreets and into the mainstream. Stormzy has won multiple awards for his work since beginning a career in 2014, and has kept busy with major deals and collaborations.
He headlines major festivals, gives back to various charities, and publishes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry through his #MerkyBooks imprint within Penguin Random House UK. On top of all that, Stormzy is known to be a passionate poker player. For his 28th birthday, he rented out the Thorpe Theme Park in Surrey, where he threw an enormous poker game for him and his friends — playing well into the early hours of morning.