My first motorcycle was a 1943 Knucklehead Harley Davidson. When I found the bike for sale I had no money, but I knew I wanted this dream machine. I wasn’t making enough money to pay for it so I needed a plan. I came up with a way to raise money and throw a great party at the same time. I organized a Poker Run. I made enough money to buy the Harley, had a few bucks left over and had allot of fun along the way.
The Poker Run was originally an event bikers played out on their Harley, but over the years it has been borrowed by Boaters, Runners, Bicyclist, Car enthusiast and I’m sure by others. The concept of a Poker Run is to travel a course or route and while doing so pick up poker cards along the way. Each person makes a 5 card poker hand from the cards they collect with the best hand winning money or prize. The way this is carried out for bikers is; each biker travels the planed route, every few miles there is a checkpoint at which each biker must stop and pickup a poker card. There are 7 checkpoints with the 7th checkpoint being at the final destination. Once all riders have reached the end, the rider with the best 5 card poker hand wins a grand prize. There can be variations to the prize scheme but the idea is to award cash or merchandise prizes at the end.
Sponsoring a poker run is fairly simple but takes time and some not so hard work. The first thing you need to do is plan the travel route and positioning of the check points. The route should be laid out so that the last check point is at the final destination. This is where the post Poker Run party will be held. In order to do this you may need to get approval from the cities you plan to travel and of course there may be some paperwork and fees for this. Always check with the city municipalities to ensure compliance with local laws.
At the end of the run is a park or event facility, somewhere where a biker crowd can hang their hat for a few hours. Depending on where you live you may need a permit (especially if alcohol will be served) for the park. Of course you will need permission for any kind of event hall or facility you plan to use.
Next you need to do a little financial planning. By figuring out how much you will use for prize money and how much the party after the Poker Run will cost, you can calculate how many riders you’ll need and what the entrance fee will be. Keep in mind entrance fees should be kept as low as possible, charge too much and the turn out will be poor. A word of caution here, be sure you do a good job of knowing the total costs of the event. Poor math can quickly turn a profit into a loss.
The next thing you will need to do is register riders. The best way to do this is to make a website where registration can be made and money can be collected. This of course may be more than you want to do so the old fashion method of mail-in or phone-in registration will work just as well. Along with registering riders for your poker run, you should also sell tickets to friends and others that just may simply want to attend the party after the ride is over. A scheme where a certain cost for the bike and its rider and another much lower cost for a passenger is a good approach.
To advertise, leave flyers and posters at biker bars, biker events and motorcycle shops in your area. If you are looking for a big crowd, run an ad on a local Radio Station, this will cost you some upfront money but you can get the message to allot of people. Also if you’re into the internet thing, you can run a Banner Ad advertisement on relevant websites. Keep in mind your marketing efforts should be localized, most bikers are only looking for a day event and will not travel far for a poker run.
Finally, careful planning of the party can be made once you have a good idea of the number of participants. If your party is small you can either buy your own food or enlist your friends and associates to help, or you can hire local catering services to handle it all. Some thought should be given to the kind of activities you may want to have during the party as well. Oh and make sure you plan to have a prize award ceremony that charms the crowd. Don’t be cheap here; bikers won’t let you get away with that! If beer is being served and or provided, special care and planning should be taken to preserve life and limb.