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A poker run is an organized event where participants, usually using motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, horses, or other means of transportation 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.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for the largest event was set in 2009 with 2,136 motorcyclists benefiting the Fallen Firefighter Survivors Foundation (FFSF).
The record for the largest single venue event was set in 2012, with 586 motorcyclists raising money for Prostate Cancer research in Ottawa, Canada.
Poker runs usually require a fee to enter and some for each additional hand; in some events a small part of the fee may go to funding the event, including the prizes, while the rest goes to the event's charity recipient or club treasury. In charity events usually most, if not all of the funds goes to the selected charity. Prizes, such as money, plaques, or merchandise donated by commercial sponsors of the event, are awarded for the best hand. Some runs will award smaller awards for lower hands or even the lowest hand.
Each checkpoint might offer food or entertainment, either covered by the entry fee or at additional cost. Each participant is responsible to maintain the integrity of their hand during the run. Hands are usually written down or marked with punched holes on a ticket, rather than assembled from actual cards given to the riders. The only requirement is that riders arrive at the final checkpoint by the time prizes are awarded, usually near the end of the day, typically at a party with food and refreshments. It might be required that participants collect all of the requisite number of cards, five or seven, or they might be allowed to miss checkpoints and use a hand with fewer cards, though the odds of a winning hand are much lower.
Although most events are on motorcycles, off-road vehicles, boats, or horses, events involving small aircraft, ATVs, bicycles, snowmobiles, skateboards, running, and geocaching have been held.
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