Though providing hand-held GPS units for recording distance and top speed has captured the lion’s share of attention for the Houston-based Texas Outlaw Challenge poker runs June 24-25, the event also fosters something fairly unique in the poker run world: crew swapping.
“We want people to socialize and get to know each other during the day,” said Paul Robinson, the producer of the event., who runs a 38-foot Express Cat with twin 1,000-hp engines. “So we encourage crew swapping. We encourage people to get off their boats at the stops and run with other people. It’s a social thing. It’s also a Texas hospitality thing.”
This year, there are more than 60 boats registered for the fourth annual event, which includes both small- (25 feet or less) and large- (more than 25 feet) boat poker runs with multiple stops. To encourage registration this year, Robinson sent out “gold tickets” to the captains who’d run in the event for the previous three years. Captains who brought in two new entries received from free registration.
Despite the still-challenging economy—boat counts in poker runs around the country have continued to slump this season—the Texas Outlaw Challenge reportedly continues to grow. The event also has expanded in the sponsorship segment with marine industry notables such as Cigarette Racing Team and Hering Propellers, which will have its support truck on site, coming on board.
“Even though the economy has been tough, Hering is still going on the road and sees the value of continuing to get in front of our customers and provide onsite customer service,” said Jeff Johnston of Hering. “We think it’s going to be an awesome event and we’re thrilled to be part of it.”