What Is a Motorcycle Poker Run?

What Is a Motorcycle Poker Run?

What is a poker run? The short answer is that it’s a motorcycle tour event in which you make a series of stops and collect playing cards along the way, working toward a poker hand that can win you a cash prize. But there’s a bit more to know than that. 

Grab your buddies and your motorcycle communication system. We’re going to see what might be in the cards for you when you participate in a motorcycle poker run. 

Poker Run Basics

First, let’s get a quick refresher on the rules of poker. Each player puts in an ante to build the winner’s pot. Then, everyone is dealt five cards out of which they try to build a winning hand. In an actual game of poker, players place bets according to how strong they think their hand is relative to their opponents’ and the highest hand (according to the established ranking of poker hands) wins. 

The concept of a poker run is similar in that the participants collect cards and try to win a prize pot. A poker run will follow a predetermined route, often through a scenic, historic or urban area. The run will consist of five predetermined stops. At each stop, every participant draws a playing card and has it noted on a scorecard. The player who’s able to build the highest hand by the end of the run collects the prize pool that everyone paid into to enter the poker run.

Part of a participant’s entry fee will go into the prize pool, while another part will go to a local organization such as a charity or motorcycle club. Because a poker run might be considered gambling under some definitions, many organizations that put on poker runs also include games of skill, such as dart throwing contests, that can improve a participant’s score. 

The Fun of the Run

So, what is it that draws people to poker runs? Lots of things: 

  • Poker runs encourage people to get out and about in the area and visit spots they might not know about or typically go to. 
  • Poker runs help local businesses and attractions bring in customers. 
  • Poker runs raise money to help people through community giving. 
  • Poker runs offer an opportunity to meet other riders, show off your bike and have a good time. 
  • Poker runs offer the chance to win a prize of some kind. 
  • Poker runs let motorcyclists do what they love to do: ride and talk about motorcycles. 

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Poker Run Tips

Riders who are planning on heading out for a poker run should know about these tips for safety and fun: 

  • Many poker runs include bars on their list of stops. But know this: Even drinking a small amount of alcohol increases your risk of crashing several times over. We won’t tell you to drink a safe amount because there is no safe amount to drink on a motorcycle, so use your best judgment. 
  • Bring a motorcycle communication system to help keep your riding group on the same page. (Plus, your motorcycle Bluetooth headset will allow you to bump your favorite music while you’re out on your run.) 
  • Wear all of the recommended motorcycle gear to protect your body, including a helmet, armored jacket, riding pants and boots. 
  • Remember that, ultimately, all of the same motorcycle safety rules apply on a poker run, including navigating safely around traffic and obeying the law. 

Finding a Poker Run Near You

OK, so this all sounds awesome, right? Now you’re probably wondering how to find out where a poker run is going on near you. 

The easiest way is usually through any of the motorcycle events calendars available online. Motorcycle organizations maintain these calendars to help riders find events near them and event organizers find people to participate. CycleFish and Let’s Ride are two popular motorcycle events calendars to start with if you’re looking for a poker run.

In addition, reach out to motorcycle organizations near you, especially ones that you’re a part of. If they’re not putting on a poker run, they might know about one going on nearby. 

Finally, as we navigate a constantly changing situation regarding COVID-19, remember to always check your local event restrictions, including whether you’ll need to wear a mask and/or observe physical distancing. 

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