Find Your Geocache: Planning a Poker Event

Holding A Poker Run Event

Back when I was organizing my big multi-day geocaching event, I decided that one of the games I would offer would be a poker run. It seemed easy and straightforward. I based it off the AJACS event we attended in 2010.

Here’s a link if you’re wondering What is a geocaching poker run?

Overall, the event went well, but I have some additional ideas and suggestions if you’re thinking of hosting a poker run event of your own.

1. Decide on the ante

I did a 50/50 pot with a $5 per player ante. The overall winner got 50% of the pot. The other 50% went to offset event costs. We had about 40 people at the event but not everyone participated. Some people were turned off that it would “cost” money but I just kept stressing that the event itself was free and the poker run was optional.

$5 ante

2. Decide how many decks

We played with 5 decks and every time a geocacher would ante up, I would assign them to a deck A-E. I went in order figuring that it would be more fair to have 3 players per deck than to have 5 players on Deck A, 5 on Deck B, and 2 on Deck C.

There are 52 cards in a deck and 5 caches of cards placed. So that means 10 choices per cache or a maximum of 10 players per deck.

Poker Registration Form download in Microsoft Excel

3. Decide on prizes

Remember that the best hand in each deck gets a prize so make sure you have enough! I went with $5.00 gift cards to Walmart. I contacted a few of my local business owner friends who each donated money to the event. Then at the event I plugged, Plugged, PLUGGED their businesses. (And sent Thank You cards after!)

4. Decide on the rules

I actually HAD a copy of the poker run rules from the AJACS event so for my event I robbed and duplicated. However, it never occurred to me to specifically outline what actions would be considered cheating. And yes, I did have a geocacher try to cheat. It really surprised me — don’t let it surprise you! Spell out what will happen to cheaters in advance and then don’t be afraid to follow through.

I also put a hard deadline on when the SEALED envelopes needed to be returned. And then I enforced it! I also enforced that the envelopes still had to be sealed.

Poker Run Rules download in Microsoft Excel

5. Invest in 5 good cache containers (ammo cans!) and chain with locks

Let’s face it, a barely hidden ammo can is temptation to EVERYBODY. So take the time and make sure that you chain yours securely so it can’t grow legs for the event.

6. Buy your supplies

One deck will allow up to 10 players so plan accordingly. It would be terrible not to have enough! And you’ll need 52 security envelopesper deck.

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Security Envelopes7. Prep the decks

You’ll need a TON of small security envelopes; 52 per deck. You’ll label 52 envelopes with your deck letter and then number them 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 for the cache container. Make sure that you put 10 in 3 containers and 11 in the last two.

Remember what I said about cheating? Well, it turns out that by flexing the envelope and holding it to the sun, you can more or less see through the security printing. The solution? FOLD the playing card in half. Is it more work? Yes. But it makes cheating virtually impossible.

8. Brush up on your knowledge of winning poker hands

Here’s a .pdf download from that even has PICTURES. I printed a similar list and then brought it with me to the event.

9. Plan how you’ll open and tabulate results

I gathered each hand, labeled the envelopes and stuck a rubber band around it to deal with later. DON’T DO THAT! I was too much work at the end of the event, the geocacher didn’t get to watch me unseal the envelopes (to know I wasn’t cheating either), and then it made calculating hands a nightmare.

What was suggested to me was to get a big cork board and pushpins. Then you’d open the 5 sealed envelopes with the geocacher and pin it to the cork board with their name and deck assignment. That way, everybody could see at a glance what everybody had. I LOVED that idea and will implement it in the future.

Readers Weigh In:
Any other suggestions for a basic, 5-card poker run?

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