“The Roving Gambler (The Gambling Man)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1915 (Brown)
Keywords: gambling courting rambling floatingverses
Found in: US(Ap,MW,Ro,SE,So,SW)


The singer freely admits his addiction to gambling, cards, and a roving life. But he also has an eye for the ladies. In one town he meets with a "pretty little girl" who takes him home and then decides to follow him wherever he goes

Cross references



  1. Laws H4, "The Roving Gambler (The Gambling Man)"
  2. Belden, pp. 374-377, "The Guerrilla Boy" (4 texts, 1 tune, but only the first 2 texts are this piece)
  3. Randolph 835, "The Guerilla Man" (3 texts, 1 tune)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 323-325, "The Guerrilla Man" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 835A. Cohen notes that the printed melody fits only the first verse; there is probably an error in the transcription, causing a line to be omitted)
  5. BrownIII 49, "The Journeyman" (3 text)
  6. Brewster 87, "The Blue-Coat Man" (1 text, a curious version in which the gambler, upon seeing enemies, "willingly shot them down"; 1 tune)
  7. Gardner/Chickering 75, "The Roaming Gambler" (1 text)
  8. Fuson, p. 131, "The Gambling Man" (1 text, incorporating the "Pretty Little Foot")
  9. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 98-99, "The Roving Gambler" (1 text; a number of his other texts also have verses probably from this song; see the references under "On Top of Old Smokey")
  10. Sandburg, pp. 312-313, "The Roving Gambler" (3 texts, 1 tune. The "A" and "C" texts, clearly go here; the "B" text is possibly distinct though mostly floating verses)
  11. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 150-151, "The Roving Gambler" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Logsdon 21, pp. 136-139, "The Buckskin Shirt" (1 text, 1 tune, a strange composite starting with "The Roving Gambler (The Gambling Man) [Laws H4]), breaks into a cowboy version of "Soldier Boy for Me (A Railroader for Me)," and concludes with a stanza describing the happy marriage between the two)
  13. Botkin-AmFolklr, p. 889, "The Roving Gambler" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Botkin-MRFolklr, p. 592, "The Wandering Steamboatman" (1 partial text)
  15. Darling-NAS, pp. 226-227, "The Roving Gambler" (1 text)
  16. Silber-FSWB, p. 54, "Rambling, Gambling Man" (1 text, with more than a little influence from the "I'm a Rambler, I'm a Gambler" texts of "The Wagoner's Lad"); p. 60, "Roving Gambler Blues" (1 text)
  17. Thomas-Makin', p. 122, "The Rustlin' Gambler" (1 text, probably a mix of this with other gambler songs)
  18. DT 645, ROVINGMB
  19. Roud #498
  20. BI, LH04