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“A poker run is an organized event where participants, usually using motorcycles,.., must visit five to seven checkpoints, drawing a playing card at each one. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run. The event has a time limit, however the participants are not timed—winning is purely a matter of chance.” - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia “A poker run is basically a chance for folks to get together and ride, hang out and have a good time for the day – and then end up at a party! And a lot of times, it’s for a good cause which makes it that much cooler!” - Hairy George, promoter and motorcycle activist

Derek Smith EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles focusing on how to effectively plan, organize, promote, and execute various motorcycle events – starting with the Poker Run. For immediate assistance with your next event, please send an inquiry to

of The Fast and Hairy Bike Show, a roving bike show that appears at various bike nights, shows, and rallies in Northeast Ohio. George’s Hairy Kat Productions also produces popular events such as The Vampire Biker Ball and the recently launched “Santa Shuffle”.

Bikers celebrate a lifestyle that is built around riding and enjoying the camaraderie of other bikers. With our increasingly hectic lifestyle, few of us have the opportunity to take off on an Easy Rider style ride. More often we look for local organized rides as a chance to meet other riders and simply get out on the bike. Some of the most popular events are the local poker runs that fill our event listings all summer long.

“Years ago, there were four or five bike poker runs that every one attended. Now there are a dozen every weekend. Some of us joke that one of these days we’re going to find ourselves riding on the Wounded Butterfly Run,” Hairy laughs. “It’s not a bad thing, but certainly some runs are better then others. And I’m not just talking about the cause, but the ride itself.”

Over the last few years, more and more organizations have taken to hosting motorcycle poker runs as a means to raise funds and spread awareness. In many cases, the poker runs are hosted by local biker bars; but often times the host organizations have nothing to do with riding at all! Despite any stereotypes or media attention otherwise, our society has certainly recognized the generosity of bikers and our willingness to help others.

Without a doubt there are many important considerations when it comes to planning any charity event – and there are many unique ones when it comes to planning a motorcycle ride. Even if you’re an experienced rider, that doesn’t necessarily make you competent to host an event. Planning a ride for 1,000, 200, or even 100 riders is a lot different then planning a run for you and a few friends.

Thunder Roads spoke with Hairy George, an old school biker and veteran event organizer, about Poker Runs and their increasing popularity. Hairy George is the co-host 22

“One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen made is planning a route with cross-traffic stops. For instance, if you’re routing everyone west bound your stops should be on the north side of the road – allowing your riders to make an easy right Thunder Roads® Magazine OHIO

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“A poker run is basically a chance for folks to get together and ride, hang out and have a good time for the day – and then end up at a part...