Setting Up A Poker Run

If you’re a motorcycling enthusiast, a poker run makes for a great summer activity to organize in your community. Often enough though, those who haven’t actually participated in these events before have little knowledge of them. So in this post, we’ll cover the core concept of a poker run, as well as some steps you can take to set one up with your motorcycling friends and community.

Basically, a poker run is a hand or game of poker played out over the course of stops on a motorcycle route. Participants buy into the event, and then stop at predetermined checkmarks where they can draw and/or exchange cards (according to the specific rules of the game). At a final stop, participants reveal their hands, and a winner is determined. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, here’s a bit more on how you can go about setting up a terrific poker run:


Plan a Route and Sponsors

First and foremost, you’ll want to map out a route. This will go differently for every poker run, but it should revolve around two factors: The total distance the group will want to travel over the course of the day, and the number of checkpoints needed in the game. For a poker run based on Texas Hold’em rules (which we’ll explore below), the maximum number of checkpoints you might consider would be 10.

A poker run overview at also recommends that you choose sponsors for the event if you can get them, and this is another step to consider in advance. Participating businesses can help you by sponsoring prizes for the top poker hands –– which incentivizes more participation (and gives the businesses a slight advertising bump among the community).

When it comes to organization, it is important to set everything in advance and secure the proper outcome of this event. First of all, you will need a lot of people who will work at various checkpoints. The next thing is to find sponsors. The participants can bring their sponsors as well. The best solution is to determine the stops. Each stop on the way is important for this event. Starting from the first checkpoint where the rules will be explained to participants and where they will be provided with maps.


Consider Texas Hold’em Rules

Your poker run can be based on any variety of poker you like. But Texas Hold’em is the most popular and best known, and is therefore worth considering as you plan out your route and setup. The main reason why the Texas model of poker is the best is because there will be more checkpoints.

Moreover, it is important to have a valid scoresheet where you will save your results while getting to different places on your route. There will be official dealers on each checkpoint, and they will mark your scoresheet as valid when you draw the next card. There is also a chance to play more games at the same time, but it will require more money. However, the best thing about that is when you have more sponsors since that will help you raise even more money.

Another important thing to know is that even though this is a charity event, it is still considered as gambling. In that matter, you should check the regulations of each state on your route so you can be sure that you are not violating some rules. In case that games of chance are banned in some following state, you can get permission since this is a charity program.‘s guide to Texas Hold’em show that this type of poker starts with each player being dealt two cards (once everyone’s bought in). This launches a betting round, after which remaining players are shown three community cards that everyone can use to complete a five-card hand. There is then another betting round, a fourth community card; yet another betting round, and a fifth community card; and a final betting round before players reveal their cards. To use this format for the maximum number of poker run stops, you can outline the run as follows:

  • Checkpoint 1: Participants receive one card; One of the most interesting options for this part is to set the same spot for all riders so they can meet each other, after that, they will receive maps and continue with the play.
  • Checkpoint 2: Participants receive a second card; The spot for the second card is related to the preferences of players, it can be done at the first checkpoint, but most people find it more interesting to have another location since that will make the ride even longer.
  • Checkpoint 3: Bets placed
  • Checkpoint 4: Three communal cards revealed; This part can be made to be longer as well if the route is longer. For example, instead of drawing all three cards at one checkpoint, it can also be divided into three parts.
  • Checkpoint 5: Bets placed
  • Checkpoint 6: Fourth communal card revealed
  • Checkpoint 7: Bets placed
  • Checkpoint 8: Fifth communal card revealed
  • Checkpoint 9: Bets placed
  • Checkpoint 10: Hands revealed; winner determined; This part should also be organized at the place where all riders can gather up again and check the results together. They can meet with sponsors and determine how much money they managed to collect.

Now, not every poker run involves betting rounds. They make things somewhat more complex (though they can help to raise more money for charity, which we’ll discuss below). But you can start with this format and trim it down as needed to suit your vision and the group participating. Keep in mind that participants are not attending this even for their own profit. Still, including the betting and the ability to raise the bet can be even more interesting.

Information can be easily spread via the internet where volunteers at different checkpoints can exchange information about the current outcome of the game. For example, when one rider decides to raise the bet on a third checkpoint, other riders will know that as well. It is all entertainment since all of the money will go to charity.


Provide Comfort Recommendations

This isn’t absolutely essential, but because a poker run should make for a nice easy day of riding, it’s a nice idea to provide some comfort recommendations and accommodations. Regarding the former, we’d point you back to our look at Harley Davidson touring seats (and maybe you could even look to a local motorcycle shop for sponsorship!). Recommending some of these adds a friendly touch to the event and might just help friends enjoy the day in a bit more comfort.

As for accommodations, just be sure you have enough refreshments planned as well. Participants should be able to hydrate and have a snack at stops, and everyone will have fun if there’s a meal to enjoy at the end of the run as well.


Choose a Charity

Finally, it’s traditional to choose a charity for which money will be raised –– through participant buy-ins, bets, sponsor donations, etc. Naturally this can be just about anything you imagine. But to give you a few ideas, recently reported on the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association raising money for veterans through a poker run. Similarly, ran a story about an Indiana poker run benefitting the Reins For Life therapeutic horse riding organization. Anything of this sort designed to help an important cause or local organization is fitting.

And that’s about all you need to get started! Good luck planning, and have fun with your first poker run.