After a resurgent 2016 that saw attendance and participation grow at all Poker Runs America events, the season will wrap up on Oct. 14-15 in Cape Coral, Fla., at the Westin Resort at Marina Village.
“Every run, attendance has been up,” said Bill Taylor, president of Poker Runs America and the publisher of the magazine of the same name. It’s amazing how everything has turned around this year. We have a lot of new blood coming into the sport.”
The final of the 2016 Poker Runs America season is sure to attract a solid fleet. Photo courtesy/copyright Poker Runs America.
Taylor explained that Poker Runs America dropped the entry fees for a number of events in 2016 and introduced other new financial incentives such as wild cards at each card stop worth up to $2,500 each to entice more boaters and their friends to participate. A good example of this is the entry fees being charged for the Cape Coral season finale. Instead of the usual $750 per boat, the organization reduced the cost to enter to $400 if a boat owner paid by October 5.
Also new in 2016 was that Fiji Water sponsored the season, which obviously helped with the financial end of things and it gave the tour a more professional feel.
For the season finale, Taylor said he couldn’t think of a better host location than the Westin Resort at Marina village, which is located on the Caloosahatchee River for easy access to the Gulf of Mexico.
Taylor estimates that at least 30 boats will be participating in the Cape Coral run including some well-known veterans of the performance-boat world. From New Jersey, well-known poker runners including Bob Christie, Tom Anselmi, Nick Amelio and Anthony Sauta have entered. Jim Agles and a group of boaters from the West Coast of Florida have committed to the event as has Jason Ventura from Brand X Performance who will be bringing some of his customers.
The Velocity name will be prominent with former company general manager Kenny Hohwiesner leading a fleet of 49- and 41-foot Velocity powerboats to Cape Coral including first-time poker runner Lee Brunner who is bringing a 39-footer.
On the manufacturer’s side, Marine Technologies Inc., will run its new 34-foot cat—profiled in the latest issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine—at the event and Sunsation Powerboats is delivering a new 32-foot Poker Runs America pace boat to Taylor and his son Todd Taylor. Jay Pilini of Pilini Marine Technologes Inc., will also unveil a new 35-foot center console powered by twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboards.
The Cape Coral Poker Run weekend will kick off with registration on Friday afternoon at the Marker 92 Waterfront Bistro Restaurant from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and then again from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturday. Launch sites are at Cape Harbour next to the Resort at Marina Village, the Punta Rassa Launch Ramp and at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Boats will raft up at the Westin overnight.
On Saturday, there is a driver’s meeting at the Westin at 9 a.m. followed by the call to start engines between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. The fleet will depart the Sanibel Bridge at 11 a.m. and head to the second card stop at Burnt Store Marina. The boats then head to the lunch stop where they pick up card 3 at Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda. From there it’s back to Gasparilla Marina for card four before heading back to the Westin to complete the card hand. The poker hands will be revealed at the post event the cocktail party and dinner.