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Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Poker Runs

Poker Runs

As the good weather springs upon us, many will use this opportunity to fundraise for a good cause. One of the more popular fundraising efforts is called a “Poker Run.”

Poker Runs usually involve large groups on motorcycles or other motorized vehicles where an entry fee is required to participate.  The participants travel to a number of locations, usually bars, collecting a single playing card at each establishment. At the end of the run, the player(s) with the best hand wins a prize.

Traditional “Poker runs” are illegal because it’s gambling.

Gambling involves three elements that all must be present.

  1. Consideration - it must cost to play.
  2. Chance -the game must be based predominately on chance. 
  3. Prize - the player must be able to obtain something worth value if he or she wins.


  • If an establishment knowingly participates or allows a poker run, the bar can face fines or in extreme cases, lose its license.
  • Participating individuals can also face potential charges or fines.

Fundraising Legally

  • Poker Runs are illegal if conducted at a licensed liquor establishment but can take place at locations like parks or individual homes as long as prizes are not awarded. 
  • A legal alternative at a liquor establishment would be a roving dart tournament where a participant throws a dart at each location and the person who throws the best score wins a prize at the last stop. Games of skill, like darts, are legal.
  • An individual can donate money to the cause and participate just for fun. No prizes can be awarded.