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Key West Poker Run Is More Fun Than Just Riding A Hog
The Key West Poker Run is more than just a popular biker tradition that draws tens of thousands of riders from around the world.
It's a noble endeavor that puts charity and community into the forefront.
The co-sponsors of the annual Key West event are Phil Peterson's 2 Miami based Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealerships and the Key West Rotary.
The revenue raised from poker hand purchases, pre-registration packages, and other sources are split 50/50 between the Diabetes Research Institute and scholarships for Key West high schools.
It was perhaps a combination of pure genius and philanthropy that spurred Phil Peterson to begin the now famous Poker Bike Run.
Not only does the city of Key West FL gain a financial boon during the yearly economic down season, charities and other organizations benefit from the raised proceeds.
Ladies Chopper On Display At Peterson's Poker Run Photo Courtesy of Bob Hansen
For the entrants, it was a win-win for a tropical, exotic location like Key West Florida to be selected. However, the ride through the Florida Keys, unquestionably one of the more beautiful road trips in the world, was the ace in the hole.
Stretching over 110 miles, this narrow ribbon of concrete runs through small communities, and over 42 bridges. Bikers are treated to panoramic ocean views of water that is almost indescribable in shading and hue.
Exhilarating warm breezes and fresh salty air fuel the pride of biker camaraderie which grows with each passing mile marker. Then the final destination of Duval Street Key West FL is reached, and another Phil Peterson's Poker Run begins.
The Poker Run Ride From Miami To Key West
Courtesy YouTube and FloridaKeysTV
Held the 3 weekend of September, rain or shine, the Key West Poker Run is a combination of the very best elements. Biker solidarity, spectacular scenery, parties, planned events, and yes - poker.
Other than Miami being the 'official' starting point, and Key West FL being the end of the Harley Run, there's no designated place for bikers to congregate and begin the ride to Duval Street.
Instead, this is a loose affair. Some entrants ride ahead so they can enjoy the fun and festivities Key West is famous for. Those who arrive early are also able to enjoy the various pre-event activities held on the Thursday before the Friday start date.
Low, Lean and Mean Bike At Poker Run in Key West Photo Courtesy of Bob Hansen
On the Friday, you'll find entrants of all ages traveling in a steady stream from Miami to
Key West. It doesn't matter how you get there, whether by bike, car or truck, everyone is welcome at the Motorcyle Poker Run. The route also includes 5 preplanned stops where bikers and other entrants can draw a playing card.
Baring challenges with the City of Key West, or unforeseen problems like COVID-19, the Poker Run typically has online pre-registration available months in advance. Entrants are able to get their registration packages which include a t-shirt, pin and poker hand. It's also possible to pick up additional poker hands available for a $10 dollar donation.
Pre-registration typically begins in person at the beginning of September at both Phil Peterson Miami dealership locations. The morning of the Run, registration kicks off at 8:00 a.m. and entrants can go to either the north store located at 19400 NW 2nd Avenue (U.S. 441) or the south location at 19825 S. Dixie Highway.
Duval Street Closed During Poker Run Photo Courtesy of Bob Hansen
To accommodate the large crowds and volume of motorcycles, Duval Street in Key West closes to through traffic during the Poker Bike Run. However, bike parking is available on Duval St. for a fee. Entrants are able to purchase a special parking band which is then displayed on the right bike mirror stem.
When registering in advanced, the bands can be purchased at a discounted rate. If you don't buy then before hand, Rotary members sell them at the Key West event. However you'll pay a higher price for each bike band.
Once the Key West Poker Run gets underway, each day has a series of planned activities and events. Included is the Blessing of the Bikes, and a Bike Show. Parties are held at various
Duval Street and
Key West bars. There's also a plethora of booths sponsored by bikers and Key Westers, boasting a variety of interesting and themed wares.
Crowded Kiosk Lined Duval St During Key West Poker Run Photo Courtesy of Bob Hansen
The final reckoning is the Texas Hold 'Em Grand Finale. This is where those holding the 10 best poker hands get to play one round of Texas Hold 'Em. The winner of the 'pot' gets to choose a new Harley-Davidson, or the designated cash prize money.
Not bad for a few days of Key West fun, and making new friends while supporting worthwhile charities at another memorable Key West Poker Run.
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