Discover Poker Running

A Poker Run is not a race. It’s a game of chance and an assembly of some of the hottest, fastest and most exotic boats in North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Call it a new version of 5-Card Stud, the Poker Run phenomena is fueling the high performance boat industry all in the name of fun in the fast lane.

Even before the actual event begins, you can sense the burning fever of anticipation. Like all true blue boaters, Poker Runners are itching to head out on the open water. Sure they love the attentions of wide-eyed performance fans fawning like love-struck children over their sleek, super-fast water warriors. Sure, they listen carefully to important details outlining proper conduct, safety and rules of the road at the driver’s meeting. But, like a pride of lions ready to prowl, Poker Runners are rarin’ to unleash raw horsepower.

A Poker Run is fun on the water with power to burn. It’s a few glorious days of performance boating at its finest, a chance to renew old acquaintances and make new friends. Each participating boat navigates a carefully charted course, stopping at five checkpoints along the route to pick up a sealed envelope containing a single playing card. At the final checkpoint, the envelopes are opened and the crew holding the best poker hand is declared the winner!

There’s an unquantifiable joy in feeling the wind whip your face at 75+ mph speeds on the open water and experiencing a roller-coaster-like ride over wakes and waves.

But signing on for a Poker Run also means being part of a well-organized, activity-oriented, fun-filled safe event. Naturally, it helps to have a great body of water, but equally as important are the card stops and special hosts that cater to Poker Runners throughout the run.

Poker Runs are events for the entire family. At each of the five checkpoints, host communities provide unique and entertaining activities, sometimes linked with waterfront festivals.

Over the last decade, the number of boating organizations has grown exponentially and there is even a dedicated magazine, Poker Runs America that covers the new "sport," its boats and people.

Each weekend, at various lakes, oceans and rivers across the country, powerboaters turn out to test their prowess, power and luck against their friends and sometimes rivals. Though it is not considered a "race," anytime there are two powerboats together, there will be competition! From dozens to hundreds of boats of various hull and engine configurations, congregate at a given location to start a weekend of activity. The event usually starts a day before so people can have dinner, drinks and entertainment, while learning the schedule of the Poker Run, the rules and safety regulations.

From the start, boaters proceed to 5 different locations to have food and/or drinks, and to pick up a card in a sealed envelope. After a day of "racing" from check-point to check-point, the group again congregates for the wrap-up festivities, including dinner and the posting of all the card hands that are turned in at the final destination. Though the informal, earlier competition focused on who got to each checkpoint first, the next phase is who wins the Poker Hand and gets various prizes.

Many groups include additional activities like prizes for the best-dressed team, best paint design, best boat in various classes, scavenger hunts, etc. One group, the Florida Powerboat Club, which has members from across the country and Canada, plans weekend excursions around each Poker Run, functioning more as a travel agent/party planner for the powerboating circle of friends. ( This group has so many participants for its annual Key West Poker Run Festival (in its 10th year, in conjunction with the APBA Offshore World Championship Races), that it schedules two departures from Miami to join in the run to Key West. The group also schedules trips to the Bahamas, the Emerald Coast and other tropical destinations.

The New York Powerboat Club is another large organization that collects the northeastern boaters throughout the summer. The Annual August "Worlds Largest Poker Run" on Lake Lanier, outside of Atlanta, has limited participation to 300 boats!

From Lake of the Ozarks to Lake Havasu, from East to West Coast, Poker Runs are in high gear and are waiting for your participation. Discover Boating invites you to join in to experience this social phenomena first-hand.

"The power in powerboating today is in Poker Runs," says Skip Braver, President and CEO of Cigarette Racing Team™, the leading manufacturer of custom performance boats. "Despite the ’weakened’ economy, the positive force in the market is the higher-end, higher-quality boats. That is our strong-point, so that is our focus," he adds.

The trailer and boat are sure to catch the eye of many highway travelers, as Strip Poker, a 46’ Rider XP, will sport traffic-stopping graphics. A beautiful bikini clad player, ready to take on the competition will adorn the hull of the newest concept Cigarette. Strip Poker will not only be proud of her hot graphics package, she will also boast a striking set-of staggered Mercury 900’s--enough horse power to get most motors and pulses running-even if they are running behind.

"Poker Runs have become a sporting, recreational and social phenomena in recent years," says Braver, "These events are not just about who gets the winning hand, it’s about looks and performance."

Here are a few Poker Runs where you may see Strip Poker and many other players:

Smoke on the Water - Poker Runs Offshore, LLC, (Make a Wish Foundation) Grand Haven, MI
June 6-7 Call - 800-339-1235

New York City Poker Run - National Powerboat Association, Hudson River, NYC
June 14 Call - 203-532-1312

Thunder on the Chesapeake Bay - Offshore Performance, Graysonville, MD
June 27-28 Call - 410-827-0097

Cleveland Poker Run - National Marine, Rock ’N Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Harbor, OH
August 9-10 Call - 330-369-6030

1,000 Islands - Poker Runs America, St. Lawrence River & Seaway, Alexandria Bay, Gananaque, Kingston
August 22-23 Call - 800-354-9145

Lake Cumberland Poker Run - Mid-America Boating Association/Lake Cumberland Marine, Jamestown, KY
September 6-7 Call - 859-221-3697 or 859-983-4295

For more information, visit:


See Also: