It’s no surprise that the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run at Lake Lanier Islands Resort in Buford, Ga., is expected to be one of the best events of the performance boating season. Last year the event, which is organized by the Lanier Partners of North Georgia (LPNG), raised a quarter-million dollars for local charities and hosted more than 275 boat owners and their friends and family.
Family is the key word, according to Georgia native John Woodruff, who owns the 48-foot Marine Technology Inc. catamaran Windship and is on the LPNG board of directors. Woodruff told me earlier this week that the event is adding a couple of new wrinkles, one of which is aimed to get more of the kids involved along with any non boat owners who want to be a part of the event—July 17-20—and give back to the community.
“We’re adding a pirate treasure hunt this year, and we’re selling the treasure maps to raise more money for charity,” said Woodruff, who has set an ambitious goal to top the $400,000-mark for donations this year. “We’re going to give away $5,000 to the winner—the maps are $200 each and you can accomplish all the stops on land.”
The 1,500-acre Lake Lanier Islands Resort is the host location for the sixth annual Pirates of Lanier Poker Run.
Woodruff said the concept is simple. You buy a map at the event, at a local establishment or online (click here for rules or to buy a map). Then you find at least five unique locations—there are a maximum 11 spots—on the Lake Lanier Islands Resort property between Thursday evening and Saturday evening. You’ll receive one card for each stop upon turning in your map Saturday, make your best five-card poker hand and possibly walk away $5,000 richer in the no-buy-in, winner-take-all poker run.
In addition to Thursday night’s meet-and-greet party, Friday’s cheeseburger in paradise raft-up and Saturday night’s fireworks show, organizers added a lunch stop on Saturday as the poker run fleet will head to Fish Tales Lakeside Grille at Hideaway Bay Marina. Presented by Reliable Heating & Air—a local business owned by Dan Jape, a performance boater with an Eliminator Boats 36 Speedster—the event currently has more than 100 entries and Woodruff said several a day are coming in now that it’s less than two months away.
“From New Orleans and New Jersey to Michigan and Miami, we have people coming from all over the place this year,” Woodruff said. “And everybody brings their kids, which is different than most of the poker runs we do. This location is so family friendly with the horses, tennis courts, ziplines, water park and more.
“We’re expecting more spectator boats this year, and we’ve identified spectator areas on our website,” he continued. “We want everyone in the community to be aware that the boats are in town—it’s good for safety and it’s good for raising awareness for our cause.”