What’s the “Deal” with Bikers and Poker?

So many motorcycle ride-events are titled “Poker Run” and even though I’ve done one myself, way back in the mid 80’s, I started thinking- what’s the relationship here? What the heck’s the big deal about bikers and Poker?

You never hear of biker events or fund raisers called the “Backgammon Run” or say the “Bingo Run” or “Scrabble Scoot” –-why Poker? Given the fact that with a Poker combined ride you can motor to check points and gather a Poker hand to be played at the completion of the run. But still curious, I decided to investigate and started by researching the game of Poker —especially since I’m not a player and know nothing about it.

Is there a relevant factor or two in the relationship between the motorcyclist psyche and that of a poker enthusiast? I came up with a few interesting findings, which when compared I concluded, yes indeed there are some synonymous factors.
Poker is defined as a [card] game where players gamble on the superior value of their card combination or the “hand”, in their possession. So here’s a link to motorcycling–the gamble, that’s the risk required when riding and the reference of superior value I felt connected to how empowered and often superior the motorcycle machine can make a rider feel.

Further, the winner of the game is the one who holds the hand with the highest value according to the established hand ranking” hierarchy. So this said to me, ok, the winner going round a race track is the one with the highest value in the competition (highest ranking/points) and who more often than not, holds the fastest lap time/record—based on the ranking hierarchy of motorsport competition and the track itself.

The winner of a poker match can also be the player who remains “in the hand” after all others have folded (the player making an un-called bet)—this I compare to the machine, the motorcycle itself where, being a mechanical sport, often there’s machine failure, the winner is the one who’s still riding, the machines’ still going and crosses the finish line. This was especially true during early motorcycling & motorsport endurance racing events.

Poker also has many variations but follows a similar pattern of play—yes the motorcycle; two stroke, 4 stroke, 3 cylinder, many variations yet similar patterns of “play”, we still ride it. Even phrases I discovered incorporated into our everyday use, came from the game such as “ace in the hole”, “ace up one’s sleeve”, “when the chips are down” and lastly a true motorsport term—“wild card” (awarded in World Superbike/MotoGP to local race talent) cross over from poker and apply to motorcycling.

So, I see the relationship now which causes me to wonder further that perhaps the first generation riders/racers where poker players and maybe the game simply evolved naturally along side our horse back riding cowboys, to horse power driven ones.

With that, I propose we move forward and bring a new name to these motorcycle rally events–one that’s better suited to our current millennium and the bikes we ride.

“Bikers Blackberry Run” for . . .(your charity name goes here)


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