Last month’s Emerald Coast Poker Run—the Florida Powerboat Club’s only summer poker run—in Destin, Fla., attracted 90 go-fast catamarans, V-bottom sportboats and center consoles and more than 400 participants. For FPC head Stu Jones, this year’s successful event reinforced his decision in 2018 to completely bring back the run under his Pompano Beach, Fla.-based organization and separate entirely from the Emerald Coast Foundation, which now has its own event.
A five-day happening, the Florida Powerboat Club’s Emerald Coast Poker Run attracted 90 boats. Photo courtesy Florida Powerboat Club
“Now in our 21st year since visiting the Emerald Coast Poker Run in 1999 for our very first time, the Florida Powerboat Club has recaptured the first-class ‘powerboat’ experience at this Florida Panhandle playground,” said Jones.
Headquartered at the Emerald Grande hotel with the Harborwalk Village entertainment complex nearby, the event boasted a festival-style format with five continuous days of activities. The action kicked off with a truck and boat parade on Wednesday night, followed by a Thursday morning fun to run to Niceville and the FPC’s Miss Powerboat Week contest at Margaritaville in Destin that evening. On Friday, another fun run took participants to Juana’s in Navarre —“the hottest waterfront spot in the area” according to Jones—followed by a party that night at AJ’s, which also was a dock sponsor for the event.
As for the poker run on Saturday, it covered 120 miles of protected water from Sandestin to Pensacola with hundreds of spectator boats along the course. The Saturday night awards party and banquet returned to Margaritaville where the Florida Powerboat Club did a complete buy out of the venue for the evening.
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more images from the 2019 FPC Emerald Coast Poker Run.
Florida Powerboat Club member Brad Hancock had the best hand and it earned him $20,000, which he promptly donated back to club-selected local charities. The event raised more than $40,000 for Alaqua Animal Rescue, Fisher House of Emerald Coast, Kids on the Coast and two military volunteer organizations.
During the captains’ meeting, Jones announced that he is stepping down as the chairman and organizer of the Emerald Coast Powerboat Poker Run, and turning over the reigns to his local colleague Ryan Christen, who will become the new poker run chairman. Christen will oversee a “local committee of key players that will handle all local sponsorship, safety management, course logistics and public relations going forward,” according to Jones.
“After 21 years of enjoying this great poker run venue, I have come to the realization that this event really needs a strong local team to plan and oversee the event,” he said. “Ryan Christen has worked with us for two years as our video and media support team, but he is also a retired firefighter, and has displayed tremendous management skills at safety support and course logistics. Along with a new team that he will assemble, I will work from the sidelines and stay very much involved with the event. And I’ll be enjoying it as a participant, rather than an organizer, in my Project 1080 Cigarette next year.”