Home » What Is a Poker Run and How Does It Work?

What Is a Poker Run and How Does It Work?

Home » What Is a Poker Run and How Does It Work?

What Is a Poker Run and How Does It Work?

Poker chips and cards on a green felt table.

If you’re used to only playing poker online with virtual opponents and a live dealer, then a poker run is definitely going to take you out of your comfort zone. Poker runs take you away from the comfort and familiar settings of your online poker games and let you experience a game packed with adventure. You get to combine the excitement of playing poker with the exhilaration of a short journey on the open road or water between each card you are dealt. Plus, it’s all for a charitable cause. 

What Is a Poker Run?

Poker has come a long way since it started in the saloons of the Old West. Today, it is one of the most popular casino games at both online and land-based casinos and prestigious poker tournaments attract thousands of players from all over the world for their chance to win huge jackpots. Of all the types of poker you can play and poker events you can participate in, a poker run is probably the most exciting. 

A poker run is a popular fundraising event that involves participants riding motorcycles, boats, or other vehicles to various checkpoints along a designated route. 

At each checkpoint, participants draw a playing card to create a poker hand. Apart from raising money for a charity, the event’s objective is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run.

How Does a Poker Run Work?

Poker run games generally start with participants gathering at a starting point and registering for the event. Usually, each participant pays an entry fee, which goes towards the charity or organization the event supports.

The event organizer will provide a map outlining the checkpoints along the route. Checkpoints are hosted by a sponsor or volunteer organization that provides each participant with a card. 

Participants travel to each checkpoint, where they draw a playing card from a deck or receive a predetermined card. In some cases, participants are allowed to purchase additional cards. 

Once all the participants have visited each checkpoint and drawn their cards, they return to the starting point. The organizer then tallies up the participants’ poker hands, and the participant with the best hand is declared the winner.

Prizes are often awarded to the top three or four participants with the best hands. There may also be prizes for other categories, like the worst hand, best-dressed participant, or even the best-decorated vehicle.

Where Do Poker Runs Come From?

The history of poker runs can be traced back to the 1950s in the United States, where they originated as informal events among motorcycle enthusiasts. At the time, bike clubs would organize rides through scenic routes, stopping at various bars or restaurants along the way. At each stop, bikers would draw a playing card, and the person with the best hand at the end of the ride would win a prize.

Over time, these informal events evolved into more structured poker runs, often organized as fundraising events for charitable causes. The first documented charity poker run took place in 1982 in California when a motorcycle club organized a ride to raise money for a local child with leukemia. 

Are There Any Poker Run Rules?

Three pairs of hands hold playing cards on a blue felt table

The rules for each poker run will vary depending on the specific event and the organizer’s preferences. 

Some standard rules that are followed in a poker run include:

  • Entry Fee: Participants pay an entry fee, which is usually donated to the charity or organization that the event is supporting.
  • Scorecard: Participants should register and receive a scorecard, which is used to keep track of the cards drawn at each checkpoint.
  • Route: The route is predetermined and consists of multiple checkpoints where participants draw a card in the correct order.
  • Drawing Cards: Participants only draw one card per checkpoint, and the order of participants at each stop generally doesn’t matter.
  • Tally: Once all participants have visited all checkpoints and received and marked their cards, they return to the starting point, where the cards are tallied.
  • Winning: The winner is the participant with the best poker hand, and they usually win the top prize. Other prizes may be awarded for different categories, like the worst hand or best costume.
  • Compliance: Participants must comply with all traffic laws and wear appropriate safety gear, like helmets.

Participants should note that the rules and regulations of poker runs vary between events and that it’s essential to review the rules before taking part. Additionally, organizers should get any necessary permits and insurance to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators.

Tips on How To Organize a Poker Run

A man holds two aces and two poker chips, leaning on a poker table

If you want to know how to organize a poker run to raise funds for a charitable cause, here are some points to add to your poker run checklist and tips to help you host a successful event:

  • Choose a Charity: Select a charity or non-profit organization that will benefit from the funds raised by the poker run. 
  • Determine the Route: Plan a scenic route that includes multiple checkpoints for participants to draw cards while ensuring it is safe for all participants. 
  • Find Sponsors: Seek sponsors who can help cover the event’s costs, like insurance, permits, and prizes. 
  • Give Yourself Enough Time To Prepare: Organizing a successful poker run is not a quick task. It takes a lot of planning, time, and effort. So, it’s essential to give yourself enough time to get everything done and make sure the event goes off without a hitch.
  • Advertise the Event: Promote the event to the local community using social media, flyers, and posters. Try contacting motorcycle clubs or boating groups to help spread the word.
  • Recruit Volunteers: Get volunteers to help with registration, checkpoint management, and prize distribution. Be sure to train and provide them with clear instructions on their roles and responsibilities.
  • Set Up the Checkpoints: Work with sponsors or volunteers to set up checkpoints along the route. 
  • Make Sure You Provide Clear Instructions: It’s important to make sure that all of the participants know exactly what they should do and how the poker run works. Be sure to provide them with clear instructions, rules, and safety considerations. 
  • Ensure safety: The safety of all participants and spectators is paramount. Be sure to enforce traffic laws, require appropriate safety gear, and provide medical support.
  • Evaluate the Event: After the event, gather feedback from participants and volunteers to identify areas of improvement for future poker runs.

Reasons To Organize a Poker Run

There are several reasons why you might choose to organize a poker run. Some ideas may include:

  • Fundraising: Poker runs are an excellent way to raise money for charities or non-profit organizations. Participants pay an entry fee, and the funds raised go directly to the charity.
  • Community Building: Poker runs bring people together, creating a sense of community. They also create opportunities to socialize and share a common interest in motorcycles, boating, or other outdoor activities.
  • Fun and Adventure: Poker runs offer a chance to explore new routes, see beautiful scenery, and challenge yourself. Participants can enjoy the thrill of riding or sailing while competing for prizes and bragging rights.
  • Raising Awareness: Poker runs help raise awareness about social or environmental issues, like cancer research or the protection of natural resources. 
  • Marketing and Promotion: For businesses, poker runs can be an excellent way to promote products or services, attract new customers, and build brand awareness. 

Poker Run Ideas for a Memorable Fundraiser

When you organize a poker run, you want to ensure your fundraiser leaves a lasting impression. If you want to put a unique spin on your event, here are a few poker run ideas that may help: 

  • Themed Poker Runs: Add a theme to your poker run to make it more exciting. Whether it’s a costume-themed run, a holiday-themed run, or even a poker run with a historical twist, themes add a touch of whimsy and get everyone in the spirit of the event.
  • Charity Auctions: You can step up the fundraising capabilities of your event by including a charity auction at the end. It is a fun way to boost how much money you raise for your chosen charity. Participants can bid on donated items, and all the proceeds can go to the chosen cause. 
  • Raffles: Selling raffle tickets and giving participants the chance to win exciting prizes (other than the main event prizes) can be a great way to boost your fundraising efforts even more. 
  • Music and Entertainment: Enhance the atmosphere with live music, a DJ, or other entertainment options at the checkpoints or the starting and ending points. It adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the event.
  • Food Truck Rally: Partner with local food trucks to provide delicious meals and snacks along the route. This not only satisfies hungry participants but also supports local businesses.
  • Best-Dressed Awards: If you’re hosting a themed poker run, you can add to the fun by encouraging participants to dress up and offering awards for the best-dressed team or best-decorated motorcycle. 
  • Poker Run Games and Challenges: Add fun challenges at each checkpoint. For instance, you could ask participants to complete a puzzle or a mini-game to get their cards. These challenges can make the event even more fun and engaging.

Poker On Your Screen With BetMGM

Poker runs are an exciting, adventurous way to play a classic casino game while raising money for a worthy cause. But, if riding around on a motorcycle or boat collecting cards is not your speed, you can register with BetMGM’s online casino to play online casino games from the comfort of your own home. 

Whether you’re hitting the open road or staying in, there’s always a way to experience the excitement of poker, online slots, blackjack, and many other exciting online casino games in a way that you enjoy. 

Poker runs are a fun way to raise money for charities and socialize with members of your club. Read on to find out what they are and how they work.