A Poker Run is not a race; it’s a game of chance, instead. There are Poker Runs in the worlds of motorcycles, snowmobiles, horses, all-terrain vehicles, and in this case speedboats.
Poker Runs in the speedboat world are some of the most glamorous, exciting, and fast-moving sports events happening each weekend throughout the North American Continent. For participants, their families, and the crowds of observers, it’s a weekend of incredibly fast and sleek boating, lots of food and entertainment, and wonderful opportunities to socialize with old and new friends.
Participants go to Miami for a run around the tip of Florida to Key West. They flock to Lake Havasu, the Lake of the Ozarks, the Bahamas, and numerous other river, lake and ocean sites to test their skills. They participate in Poker Runs in Michigan, on the Hudson River in New York, in Maryland, Ohio, along the St. Lawrence River in Canada, and on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. There’s hardly a weekend in the year when there’s not a speedboat Poker Run somewhere. Billed as the “Worlds Largest Poker Run,” the annual Lake Lanier Poker Run, outside Atlanta, is so popular it had to limit the number of boats participating to 300.
These daring souls compete against the wind, the waves, and their friends and foes as they move from checkpoints one through five, each point a waterfront community along the way. At each checkpoint, they mingle with the crowd a bit, are entertained and fed, if they are hungry, and each crew collects a sealed envelope containing one playing card. At the end of the Run, each team has a 5-Card Stud hand and the winner of the race is not the first boat to reach the final destination, but the one that has the best 5-Card Stud hand.
Prizes in the form of plaques, money, or merchandise are given to the winner and everyone celebrates in an evening of socializing with old and new friends at dinner and the final wrap-up ceremonies. Additionally, in some Poker Runs, prizes are handed out for categories such as the best paint design, the best-dressed crew, and for the team that has the lowest 5-Card Stud hand.
Poker Runs have become, over the years, events with thousands of people participating. Among the six localities participating in each event, some of the locations are cities as large as New York City and Miami, Florida. Thousands of observers go to these locations to celebrate the performance, speed and daring of these amazing boats and their crew members. Add to this, the hundreds that make up the sponsors, the crews and their families and friends who follow these events, and it becomes evident that Poker Runs have become great, money-making events for our country.