Based in Burlington, Vt., the Lake Champlain Poker Run never will be one of those sparkly, wild and rowdy 150-boat events. Organizers Nicole Carlson, Brian Hoar, Chris Fisher and David Wulfson don’t want that, and the good people of Burlington definitely don’t want that. In that way, the Lake Champlain event, which celebrated its third anniversary this weekend, resembles Northern Michigan’s 18-year-old Boyne Thunder Poker Run when it was in its infancy.
But if you’re looking for a hidden gem of a laidback, late-summer happening in a pristine setting, the Lake Champlain Poker Run is it.
In 2019, the inaugural Lake Champlain Poker Run attracted 25 boats. Some 50 boats participated the following year. This time around, 75 captains and their guests signed up to tackle the run, which began yesterday morning in Burlington Harbor Marina and finished up for lunch at the Freaky Tiki Bar and Grill at Mooney Bay Marina in Plattsburg, N.Y., where participants received their final two cards.
The good times rolled during yesterday’s Lake Champlain Poker Run.
“If last year was a home run, this year was a grand slam,” Fisher said.
Fisher had excellent reasons for his pride and enthusiasm, starting with the immaculate weather that defied forecasts earlier this week. But first and foremost, the 100-plus-mile run, which headed south on Lake Champlain for two floating card stops before heading north toward Canada for another stop before lunch, was incident-free. A couple of boats had mechanical issues, but that was it.
Second, the event took on a charity this year, Vermont-based Camp Ta-Kum-Ta—a nonprofit organization that serves children with cancer—and raised at least $30,000 for the outfit.
Enjoy more images from the third annual Lake Champlain Poker Run in the slideshow above.
“That is what we are guaranteeing to Camp-Ta-Kum-Ta after expenses,” Hoar announced to the group during the awards ceremony after the poker hands were played. “That’s the minimum. It could end up being more.”
The organizers plan to raise even more money next year through the run. But here’s what there won’t be more of: poker-run boats on the water.
It is right-sized, right now.
“This run, this area and—most of all—these people are incredible,” said Devin Wozencraft, a Lake Champlain Poker Run second-timer who came all the way from Southern California to run his 30-foot, high-performance marine insurance agency badged Skater Powerboats catamaran in the event. “It’s perfect.”
For second-year participant Devin Wozencraft, next year’s Lake Champlain Poker Run is a lock.