Less than two weeks since registration opened for the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run July 14-16, more than 50 performance-boat owners have signed up their vessels and crews for the eighth annual happening, which raises funds for charities benefitting “Georgia’s children in need,” according to the Lanier Partners of North Georgia website. Presented by Reliable Heating and Air, the event reportedly has raised $1.4 million for those charities since it began in 2008.
Huge attendance numbers—and huge fundraising for children’s charities in Georgia—are the hallmarks of the epic Pirates of Lanier Poker Run. Photo courtesy/copyright Yvonne Aleman.
Organizers expect registration to top more than 300 boats for the poker run on Lake Lanier.
This year, Thursday’s evening’s traditional meet-and-greet dinner will be bigger and better thanks to a full-blown Casino Night with games of chance including Black Jack and Roulette, as well as a Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament, and a buffet dinner under “the big tent” for the event. The tent also serves as the venue for Friday’s festivities.
“Thursday night will be a casual, ‘come as you are’ event,” said Beau Renfroe, one of the organizers for the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run. “Having it under the big tent on Thursday night this year instead of our traditional venue, we used to have it an Italian restaurant, is a way for us to give our sponsors more exposure.”
Scheduled to begin at approximately 10 a.m. Saturday’s poker run returns to its original staggered-start format this year with boats grouped in several different categories. In 2015, the organizers simply opened the course and card stops at 9 a.m. so participants could start and finish on their own schedules.
“This year, we’re going back to starting from the dam in waves,” said Renfroe. “A lot of spectators complained that they didn’t get to see the ‘big wave’ of boats go by last year. Our goal is to stagger the starts every 10 minutes, but it could be a little longer than that depending on when the helicopter gets back to them.”
As he did in 2015, Superboat Unlimited-class offshore racer Chris Cox is bringing his Envy team display, which includes a 50-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran, its color-matched tractor/trailer and assorted motorized toys. Coming to the Pirates of Lanier Poker Run for the first time, Mercury Racing is bringing its display trailer.
The Pirates of Lanier Poker Run registration list is continually updated. Organizers encourage participants to use the upload feature on the website to provide photos of their boats for others to view when they sign up. As for the participant fleet, it’s off to a strong start so far.
“Right now, we have seven Skaters, three MTIs and five Cigarettes,” said Renfroe. “And there’s a lot more coming.”