A couple of weeks ago at an MAA math lecture by Alissa Crans on the Catalan numbers, I sat near card-trick mathematician Colm Mulcahy. And I asked him if he knew any poems about card tricks and their mathematics.
Though he at first said "no," Mulcahy turned out to have a couple of connections up his sleeve. From Matthew Wright he learned of "The Card Players" -- a colorful sonnet from Philip Larkin's 1974 collection High Windows and available here with selections of Adriaen Brouwer's art.
And Bruce Reznick reminded him of the lyrics for "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers. The complete lyrics may be found here; I include below a stanza that offers some instruction about counting.
You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done
Also from Reznick (Thanks, Bruce!) an alert to the most fun of them all -- "Politics and Poker" -- from the 1959 Broadway Musical, "Fiorello." The entire song is available here on YouTube -- and a bit of the song's flavor is shown in these excerpted passages. And of course, the mathematical probabilities are present and powerful (although hidden between the lines).
from Politics and Poker (lyrics by Sheldon Harnick)
Gentlemen, here we are, and one thing is clear
We gotta pick a candidate for Congress this year
("Big ace" "Ace bets" "You'll pay through the nose")
("I'm in" "So am I" "Likewise" "Here goes")
("Possible straight" "Possible flush" "Nothing")
Gentlemen, how about some names we can use
Some qualified Republican who's willing to lose
How's about we should make Jack Riley the guy ?
Which Riley are you thinkin' of - Jack P. or Jack Y?
. . .
I say, "Neither one - I never even met 'em"
I say, "When you got a pair of Jacks, bet 'em!"
Politics and poker, politics and poker
Shuffle up the cards and find the joker
Neither game's for children; either game is rough
Decisions, decisions, like
Who to pick, how to play, what to bet, when to call a bluff
. . .
Politics and Poker, Politics and Poker
Playing for a pot that's mediocre
Politics and Poker running neck and neck
If politics seems more predictable..
That's because usually
You can stack the deck!
. . .
Thanks, Colm Mulcahy, for connections to all of this.