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Organizing a Motorcycle Poker Run


    Poker Runs are a great way to raise money for a charity or cause and have lots of fun doing it.  However we get many people asking how do I start a motorcycle poker run and others asking simply how do I play in a poker run.  So we have put together these tips on how to hold a motorcycle poker run and how to play.

    The basics of a Poker Run... A Poker Run is simply classic game of poker with each player choosing five (or seven) cards. The person with the best hand wins. The difference is instead of a dealer dealing the cards to the players, the players enjoy a fun ride randomly choosing a card at each stop.

    The event begins when you check in and receive a score sheet and route map. Typically, there are five (or seven) checkpoints along the route and you will draw a card at each one. You draw a card, it will then be noted on your score sheet and you will ride on to the next checkpoint. And like a game of poker, the person with the best hand at the end will be deemed the winner. You can also have prizes for 2nd place and even worst hand.

    Preparing to host your poker run... The very first thing you will need to do is to set up the stops where the riders will pick up their cards. The best case is to have a starting point, 3 stops, and an ending point (the starting and ending point can be the same place). However, if for any reason you need to have less than five stops, that's okay too. You can simply draw multiple cards at any of the stops so each player winds up with a total of five cards.

    For the starting point we recommend a biker friendly bar or restaurant. People will normally gather for a while before taking off and it is always good to have some food and drinks available.

    For the 3 stops...they can be just about anywhere (even a school parking lot) because the riders are normally just pulling in, getting their cards and continuing. However, if you can find local biker friendly businesses for these stops (bar, restaurant, bike shop, etc.), I recommend it. You can sometimes get these businesses to contribute to the prize and donation pots in exchange for bring them a large group of bikers.

    For the ending point you want a place that serves food and drink, unless you can set up food and drink a BBQ. The riders will all need to gather there until all bikes are in and the winner is determined.

    Prizes... Prizes are typically given for Best Hand and Worst Hand, however if you have a large turnout you can also give out second and third place prizes.  The prizes can be as simple as a fixed dollar amount or a split of the pot. You can also contact local businesses to donate prizes such as motorcycle accessories, gift cards, free dinner at a local restaurant, free night stay at local hotel, etc. 

    Pre-Ride the Ride... We recommend you pre-ride the route within a couple of days of your poker run to be sure maps/directions (if provided) are correct and there are no unknown problems along the route like road construction or closures.

    Day of the Ride... At each stop you need to have a couple of people working the stop with a table and a couple of decks of cards. Each deck of cards is spread on the table face down and shuffled around right before the rider picks their card.

    At the starting point the riders will pay their entry fees and register. When they register they will each be given a route map with the stops and a score sheet. (See Below for Sample Score Sheet) The first card will be drawn and scored at registration.

    At each stop the riders will pick a card from the deck and the person working at the stop will mark the card on the riders score sheet. It is important that the rider presents their scoresheet to the attendant before picking the card. If you permit riders to play more than one hand, they must present each score sheet to the attendant before drawing their card. They cannot draw a card than decide which sheet to mark it on.

    At the final stop the riders will pick their last card. The attendant will mark the rider’s scoresheet and keep it. Once the last rider has arrived the event leaders will go through all the sheets to determine the best hand and the winner. Some rides allow riders to draw an extra card(s) at an additional donation for each card. This is like throwing out cards and drawing new cards in a traditional 5-card draw poker game.

    As far as keeping it legal (gambling laws) ... Note: These are only suggestions. It is recommended you check your local laws to determine if hold a Poker Run violates any local gambling laws.

    In most areas a "Game of Chance" is considered gambling and is not allowed without the proper permits. A straight-out game of poker is gambling because it is purely a game of chance. To keep the local gambling commission at bay, many event promoters insert a game of skill into the route that helps determine the riders' final score.

    Again, it is recommended to check with local authorities on the gambling laws in your area and secure any special permits needed.


    And of course, the most important thing is to let people know about your Poker Run and the best way to do that is to list you Poker Run on the CycleFish Motorcycle Event Calendar!!!


    SAMPLE POKER RUN SHEET (printable)