Once again, the Lake Cumberland Poker Run in Jamestown, Ky., closed out a memorable summer season at one of the most enjoyable and scenic waterways on the planet and one of the coolest and largest houseboat marinas in the country. Hosted by State Dock, the 17th annual event featured two days of poker run stops on Friday and Saturday as participants enjoyed the lake that has more than 1250 miles of shoreline and includes popular destinations such as 76 Falls and Harmon Creek.
The 17th annual Lake Cumberland Poker Run attracted a wide variety of boats from different parts of the country to Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland last week. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
According to the event’s primary organizer, Shanalda Burden, the Southeastern Regional Marketing Manager for Suntex Marinas, which owns State Dock, the poker run’s “Totally 80s” theme was embraced enthusiastically by hundreds of participants at the event, which included 130-plus registered boats.
“I think it was one of our best poker runs yet,” said Burden, a day after she had to rush out of State Dock to make it to Dallas in time for corporate meetings on Monday. “We had over 130 boats register this year and our DJs at the party were on point with the ’80s music, which definitely kicked the after party up a notch.”
Burden said she was impressed with the variety of boats on hand, including luxurious performance center consoles from Sunsation Powerboats, Concept Boats, Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats and more to radical high-performance catamarans from the likes of DCB, MTI, Nor-Tech and Skater Powerboats. And she was especially excited to have poker run luminaries, Stu and Jackie Jones of the Florida Powerboat Club, at this year’s event. The couple is on the final stretch of its 30th anniversary Summer Poker Run Tour, which resumes later this week at the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run in Buford, Ga., in their Top Gun Flight 1130 Cigarette Racing Team 38-foot V-bottom, which will head straight to Destin, Fla., for the club’s Emerald Coast Powerboat Poker Run Week following the event on Lake Lanier.
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Lake Cumberland Poker Run.
“A memorable moment for me was when Stu had Jackie pull the cards,” Burden said. “The ones she pulled all had a special meaning to her—and it ended up being the winning hand. She and Stu decided to donate their winnings to charity, which is incredible. Half of it will be donated to Folds of Honor and the other half to a local charity.
“At the end of the run we had several participants ask about sponsorships for next year,” she added. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m so honored to be able to participate in such a well-received event.”
Burden said the second- and third-place hands were won by John Roof and Thomas Blankenship, respectively.
Stu and Jackie Jones ran their Cigarette 38 Top Gun powered by twin Mercury Racing 565 engines in the 17th annual event.
It was clear Stu and Jackie Jones had a lot of fun at the event, which they had never attended together in their own boat.
“Lake Cumberland is a beautiful lake,” said Stu Jones, who hadn’t attended the poker run in 10 years. “There were a lot of great people there that we know from the club and other events, and we met some new friends, which is what this summer tour is all about. Plus, we won the poker run!”
A surprised Jones said he’s never had a winning poker hand before.
“Of course, we cannot win our own events, but in all of the years of touring around the country to do other events, I’ve never made the podium,” he said, adding that it felt good to be the people donating the winnings back.
Another couple that will be making its way to Lake Lanier later this week is Mike and Angela Goldbaugh of Alabama. The Goldbaughs have a couple of “work days” to squeeze in back home before they head to another one of their favorite waterways to hang out with many of their friends who can’t wait to see LATE FEE$ X3, the Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran they recently purchased.
“Angela and I had a really good time at the poker run again—it’s always fun getting to see everyone at that event,” said Mike Goldbaugh, aka DJ Goldnutz, who made an appearance as a guest DJ during Saturday night’s dock party. “Our new boat ran well, which meant it was a great weekend. We still have some issues we are working on but we are close.”
The raft-up at Harmon Creek was at its normal grandiose size on both Friday and Saturday.
The Goldbaughs’ new ride was an attention-getter at the docks as were several other Skaters, such as Justin and Johnna Beischel’s 368 called Short Circuit and Wozencraft Insurance owner Devin Wozencraft’s 30-footer.
As usual the event included solid representation from V-bottom owners with Bajas, Cigarettes, Donzis, Fountains, Outerlimits and more. But likely the best-represented brand, thanks to its V-bottom and center console models, was Sunsation. One of the event’s sponsors, the Algonac, Mich.-based builder always brings a crew to the event to support its loyal customers and the longstanding event.
“Cumberland is uniquely one of the coolest runs in the country,” said Ryan Wenk, Sunsation’s director of sales and marketing who did the run in one of the company’s 40 CCX models powered by triple Mercury Racing 450R engines. “Between the beautiful scenery, laid-back atmosphere and eclectic community of boaters from throughout the country, it’s easy to see why Sunsation has sponsored this event for 15-plus years. As one of the few manufacturers that support the event, we’re thankful for our Sunsation Nation family who came to hang out for the weekend.
“The team at State Dock did a great job organizing the event and bringing it back to the boaters in 2023,” he added. “We can’t wait to see what they do in 2024.”
The slideshow above include images of several Sunsations that were part of the poker run.
Based on the general consensus as well as that of the Sunsation Nation—yes that is an official thing now that the company has released eight Sunsation Nation episodes on YouTube this year—there are a lot of boaters who can’t wait for 2024 when the event turns 18.
Countdown To Cumberland: Registration And Wristbands Now Available For 17th Annual Kentucky Poker Run
Sweet 16! Lake Cumberland Poker Run Does Not Disappoint
September Flush With Fine Events From Coast To Coast
Meet The New LATE FEE$ X3 Skater 388
Florida Powerboat Club Head Pumped On Ambitious 30th Anniversary Summer Poker Run Tour
Soaring To A Poker Run Near You: Top Gun Flight 1130 Cigarette
Pirates Of Lanier Poker Run Coming Back With New Dates And More
Pirates Of Lanier Charity Poker Run Moving Back A Week In September