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Organizer Makes Future Bright For Elite Poker Runs

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Could the third time be a charm for conditions during the Erie Poker Run next year? Scioli and his sea of supporters are optimistic. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

In the summer of 2014, restaurant manager Anthony Scioli of Buffalo, N.Y., formed Elite Poker Runs, LLC. As a high-performance powerboat owner turned event organizer, Scioli had spearheaded the continual growth of the Buffalo Poker Run, then-hosted by the Western New York Offshore Powerboat Association, for three years. He formed Elite Poker runs simply because he wanted to have a spring poker run in the Buffalo area, though not at the same Templeton Landing venue, and the WYNOPA leadership wasn’t interested in expanding its poker-run portfolio.

So in 2015, after working with city officials and leaders in Erie, Pa., Scioli launched the inaugural Erie Poker Run, which was cut short by the big, unruly waters of Lake Erie. Undaunted—OK, maybe slightly daunted—Scioli ran the even again this year. And once again, Lake Erie did not cooperate.

No one could have blamed Scioli for hanging it up, especially when his Grand Island Poker Run at the historic Buffalo Launch Club, failed to produce the 50-boats he needed to break even. A dismal long-term weather forecast and the Lake Cumberland Poker Run on the same weekend—the only dates Scioli could secure for the private club venue—conspired against the Grand Island event. Had Scioli decided to walk away and go back to working 70 hours a week in the three restaurants he runs, everyone—most of all his endlessly supportive wife, Sara—would have patted him on the back and wished him well.

But, you see, Scioli is a successful hospitality person, a soon to-be 40-year-old product of a service culture that those outside it will never understand.

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