With 140 “poker run teams” registered as of this afternoon, the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual Key West Poker Run (Nov. 10-16) is nearly sold out according to Stu Jones, the president and founder of the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based outfit. Jones said dockage and lodging are more limited in Key West this year than they’ve been in recent years.
“We have used up nearly every room and every dock in the blocks we’ve set up,” said Jones. “We will be hard-pressed to fit in 10 more boats. That said we have a waiting list and we encourage our club members who want to go to get on it. You’re talking about 800 people. Stuff happens—business and medical issues comes up, responsibilities intrude and people suddenly have to change their plans. The law of averages says that 10 percent of the people who have registered will have a major change to their agendas. There is always something available for those who want to roll the dice and register—we are on will-call with every hotel and B&B and marina in town. We can’t, say, guarantee you’ll be at the Marriott or that your boat will be at the City Dock, but we can hook you up with something.”
The FPC’s Key West Poker Run has hosted as many as 200 boats in its biggest years, but accommodations for a group of that size simply aren’t available this yea,r according to Jones.
“Having this many teams registered 30 days out is pretty strong,” he said. “The economy is better. When the economy is better, people buy boats. They have to use them somewhere. Why not Key West? So there is more demand for everything in Key West now and that limits us.”
No longer based out of Sea Isle Marina in Biscayne Bay, the FPC Key West Poker Run will have two primary starting points—Haulover Park and Marina in North Miami Beach and Grove Harbour Marina in Coconut Grove—on Wednesday and Thursday. Jones said he will have staff—and a forklift—on hand both days to help participants launch their boats and park their trailers at Haulover. The boats leaving from Grove Harbour will hit the water via the facility’s Travel Lift and staff. Participants who depart from Haulover will have to depart 30 minutes prior to those leaving from Grove Harbour, which serves at the event’s first card stop. (Another small group will be departing from TNT Custom Marine in Miami.)
Jones said that he is not worried about the timing challenges created by more than one departure point. In fact, he said, he expects things to run more smoothly than they have in years past.
“I think it’s going to work out really well,” he said. “We’re always adapting, always figuring out how to handle the curves that get thrown at us.”
The Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Sunny Isles is the host venue for poker runners departing from Haulover. In Coconut Grove, the host hotel is the Coutyard By Marriott. Jones said he will hold drivers’ meetings at both hotels on the evenings prior to the Wednesday- and Thursday-morning departures for Key West. Led by Patrick Haughey of Active Thunder Boats, an “unofficial” group of approximately 20 boats will head to Key West on Friday.