By Albert Thompson
For a number of poker pros and poker run enthusiasts, cycling is the way to go.
Ever since televised poker exploded onto the world stage in a big way about a decade ago, poker has been one of the most watched and enjoyed spectator sports in the world. Whether it was the allure of the high-stakes games, the successful pros’ lifestyle, or just the pure adrenaline rush of bluffing someone out of a huge pot, all sorts of people have gravitated towards the game. Everyone from the average man on the street to world-famous celebrities has wanted a piece of the poker action.
If there’s a sport that has enjoyed the same kind of crossover success that poker has had, it’s got to be cycling. Even now, you almost can’t go anywhere without seeing somebody riding a bike, and if the success of CyclingEurope is any indication, it’s becoming an even bigger trend to just get on your bike and go.
A number of professional poker players have even turned mountain biking into an indispensible part of their lives. WSOP bracelet winner Phil Laak, for example, has told Ask Men that he believes a bike is the best way to navigate New York’s busy streets. Support for cycling in New York has grown so much that there are now initiatives like Bike New York, which promote it as a healthy mode of transportation in the Big Apple, and Citi Bike, an operation that promotes bike sharing and gives tips, tricks, and safety reminders to everyone who wants to cycle in New York.
Other poker professionals have also showed great support for the sport. Lithuanian poker pro Tony G also shares a love for biking. He has owned several over the years, including a top-of-the-line mountain bike (he’s never mentioned a specific brand, though). Tony G has even turned his love of biking into his calling card, telling players he’s about to crush to “get on a bike”. Online poker portal Betfair has also supported ex-Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton in her switch from cyclist to jockey.
Without a doubt, both poker and cycling are two of the most popular hobbies right now. It’s no wonder, then, that enthusiasts have gleefully embraced these two sports and turned them into the Frankensteinian amalgam known as the cycling poker run.
A cycling poker run is a race, but at the same time it’s not. The one who crosses the finish line first isn’t automatically the winner. What participants do is pick cards at designated stops along the route and try to form the strongest poker hand they can. Whoever has the strongest hand at the end of the race wins.
Cycling poker runs have spread like wildfire through bike clubs and trail aficionados all over the globe, with each usually averaging hundreds of riders. A lot of them are organized to benefit one charity or another, but what they all have in common is that they foster a spirit of camaraderie among the participants. Since poker runs often have entry fees, there are prizes. Competition takes a backseat to fun, however, and participants wouldn’t have it any other way.