Riding bikes is a great hobby that opens all manner of possibilities.
You might form a motorcycle club based out of a clubhouse with rules and organised rides. You might be one to simply customise your bike and ride with a few friends every so often. You might hit up local bike nights across the UK, socialising with new people every week. You might even take part in a charity poker run.
A poker run is very much an American phenomenon, but we’re seeing more of them in the United Kingdom, and they’re really easy to organise. If you are a motorcycle club and want to do something for your local community or a chosen charity, they’re a great thing to consider. A poker run sees bikes ride between two points, usually with a handful of checkpoints.
At each checkpoint, they’re given a playing card, and the rider with the best poker hand at the end of the day wins whatever prize is on offer. It’s essentially a charity ride, but with elements of poker thrown in to ensure everyone has fun, there’s no actual racing and yet still a strong sense of fun and community.
Here’s our guide to starting your poker run here in the UK.
Decide on a Cause
Almost all poker runs are done for a good cause. Most runs charge an entry fee for riders, say £20, all of which goes into the pot. At the end of the run, you may split that 50/50 with the winning rider, or the whole pot goes to charity, and the winner gets a prize.
However you choose to do it, you’ll need to pick a good cause, which will attract other riders who might not usually come along.
This is key to having a good day; a large mix of riders means new faces and more bikes to admire at each checkpoint. After all, it’s all about the bikes!
Plan a Route
Planning a route is key, especially in the UK, where road space is premium. In the US, many take place off-road, across deserts or long stretches of road that have little traffic, but roads here in the UK are usually busy wherever you go. We recommend planning a route between popular cafes and car parks, out of a city. Each checkpoint should have a good ride between them, at least ten miles, so the run isn’t over quickly. You may consider making a loop, starting and finishing at the same point, but taking in a 60-100 miles course over a day. If you have scope for off-road, you could make your run about laps; doing ten laps of a dirt bike course and being given a card. Don’t be restricted by the route, be creative.
Attract RidersAll your riders need is a bike, a basic knowledge of poker hand rankings and the entry fee. After that, it’s all systems go. A handful of elements will attract riders; the course will be one, the good cause another and the sense of fun and community. Maybe think about having more than just a start and end point, but making those parts mini-events in themselves. If you start at a popular biker spot, can you get a food van there and a good space for people to show off their bikes before they set off? The more people interact, the better. They might even want to show off their latest biker attire. Clever poker runs have little side pots for the best-kept bike, best-dressed entrant, that sort of thing, even if it is only a free butty at the end of the run.
Enjoy the DayFinally, you should just be able to enjoy your day. With the help of volunteers at each point handing out cards and the interaction with riders, it should be like a Thursday night ride out with a difference. It is a great way of bringing the biker community together for a good, wholesome cause.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Poglianich is a nomadic brand strategist and copywriter in the motorcycling and adventure space who has worked with brands such as Visa, Disney and Grey Goose. Her writing has taken her all over the world, from a Serbian music festival to a Malaysian art and culture event. Olivia is a graduate of Cornell University and is often writing or reading about travel, hospitality, the start-up ecosystem or career coaching. Her latest interests are at the intersection of web3 and communal living, both on and offline.