A week after a strong turnout for Poker Runs America’s signature event, the famed 1,000 Islands Poker Run, a new stop on the organization’s 2016 tour, the Rock The Bay Poker Run in North East, Md., continued the organization’s momentum last weekend.
“It went over quite well,” said Poker Runs America president Bill Taylor, who is also the publisher of the magazine of the same name and of Powerboating Canada. “Being a new venue for us, you’re always nervous the first year, but everything worked like clockwork.”
Poker Runs America followed up its 1,000 Islands Poker Run in Canada (above) with another successful event in Maryland last weekend.
Every time he goes into a new area or takes over the production of an event, Taylor works closely with local performance boaters who play a key role in staging the event. Taylor said that local knowledge is critical to the success of a given event.
“I work with the poker runners I know well who have a little bit of marketing savvy and they tell me what they think will work,” he explained.
Taylor said that Chesapeake Bay is a great place to hold a poker run because the conditions remain pretty consistent. Rock The Bay, which included 47 boats, was headquartered at Anchor Marine, which has been the host facility for 15 years.
“Everything went well,” said Butch Trainer, Anchor Marine’s president. “Everybody behaved.”
Trainer said the on-site restaurant at his marina, the Nauti Goose, hosted the Friday night welcome party, but that they had to go off-site for the awards because last year’s crowd exceeded his facility’s capacity. A local fire company had recently re-furbished its banquet hall, so the awards and a dinner catered by Woody’s Crab House, also of North East, were held there.
Speaking of crowds, the week before in the Canadian towns of Kingston, Prescott, Brockville and Gananoque, participants in the 1,000 Islands Poker Run were greeted by throngs of enthusiastic spectators as they put on a show on the St. Laurence Seaway.
“It was definitely the biggest poker run spectator-wise in our history,” said Taylor. After participation lagged in 2015, Poker Runs America changed the date for the 2016 event and this year the fleet numbered 91 boats.
Taylor said there were three key ingredients to the 1,000 Islands event this year. First and foremost was the support that the host city, Kingston, Ontario, gives to the run. Second was a schedule change so that the event no longer conflicted with the Buffalo Poker Run, which is a popular event in the region. Finally, while the big, million-dollar boats put on a great show, it’s the guys in less-than-30-foot boats that bring new blood to the run and this year, there were a number of 28- and 30-foot Bajas, a couple of 29-foot Activators and a 29-foot Warlock.
Taylor also wanted to recognize the sponsors for the 2016 Poker Runs America Tour, Fiji Water, Mercury Racing and Snap-On Tools. “These are key guys who make it work,” he said.
In the card draw this year, Tony Joseph, who owns a Hustler Powerboats 388 Slingshot, won the card hand with three aces and two eights.
New for 2016, Poker Runs America crowned a King of the 1,000 Islands. To be eligible, a participant had to have participated in the Alexandria Bay Poker run earlier this summer and in the 1000 Islands run. The contestants could combine their card hands from the two events to make one hand. The first to be crowed the King of the 1,000 Islands was Maxime Taillefer from Quebe, who owns a 38-foot Fountain Powerboats V-bottom.
“He’s a young guy in his 30s who will be back,” said Taylor.
Editor’s note: Speedonthewater.com contributor Eric Colby is the editor of Poker Runs America magazine.