You gotta know when to fold them

supermarioutd

Senior Member
Persian
Hello to all,

I was listening to a song called the gambler by kenny rogers . This is the lyrics:

You gotta when to hold them know when to fold them

What does the underlined part mean?
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Hello to all,

    I was listening to a song called The Gambler by Kenny Rogers . This is These are the lyrics: (or "This is the line from the lyrics)

    You gotta when to hold them know when to fold them

    What does the underlined part mean?
    The words hold and fold refer to how you play a poker hand. If you think you might win, you hold your cards until the end. If you don't think you will win, you throw your cards down and "fold".
    From the dictionary.
    fold: to place (one's cards) facedown so as to withdraw from the play.
    He is using the terms as metaphors for decisions in life :)
     

    BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    To know when to hold them is to keep the cards you were dealt and play the hand with them.
    To fold them is to realize you have a bad hand and don't play it. You put the cards down without playing. You're out of that hand.

    Cross-posted
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    And this is a case where the real pronunciation of many words is different from the standard spelling because it's a song sung very casually quoting the words of someone who might not have a lot of education and so it fits his character and (very importantly) the flow of the song better. You wouldn't normally write those words that way but these are song lyrics and that's how they are sung and it wouldn't work well with full standard pronunciation.

    You've got to know when to hold 'em
    Know when to fold 'em


    In the first line he actually gives "You've got to" standard pronunciation, and does not say it as "You gotta" because that fits the rhythm better. But for "hold them" and "fold them" he says "hold 'em" and "fold 'em".

    And throughout the song, -ing words all end in -in'. "When you're sittin' at the table." That matches the character and his language better, too.

    (He also says "a-starin' out the window".)

    These are appropriate contexts for those kind of contractions. Song lyrics can do what they want, especially when quoting speech. But in normal text, in a normal paragraph, you wouldn't do any of that.
     
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