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Small But Mighty Erie Poker Run On The Water This Weekend

Though a move to late August from its original June dates saved the Erie Poker Run in Pennsylvania from pandemic demise in 2020 and the run returned in 2021, organizer Anthony Scioli canceled the event in 2022. At issue was lodging—or more accurately the lack of it—at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, the weekend happening’s longtime host venue on the shores of Lake Erie.

From the early days of the Erie Poker Run, locals David and Nicole Weschler have supported the event as sponsors and participants in Digging It, their Outerlimits SV 52 sportboat. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

Scioli and his would-be participants faced the same lodging challenges this year as the hotel “has been sold out for two months and people waited too long to book their rooms,” he said. But the Elite Poker Runs, LLC, founder also was quick to point out that the issue was in part self-inflicted.

“I’ve never scheduled an event for a holiday weekend before,” he said.

Regardless, the eighth annual event is a go for this holiday weekend and the forecast for the weather and water conditions is excellent.

A famously themed 44-foot MTI catamaran, Speed Racer is now owned by Michael Tandoi of Rochester, N.Y.

“We started with 18 registered boats and five broke before they got here,” Scioli said, then laughed. “But the cool thing is that those people are still coming without their boats, like my friend Vance Hagen, who is bringing his whole family. They’re going to hang out on Prescott Island during the poker run.

“It’s really all about being together, plus it’s such a cool venue,” he continued. “My wife, Sara, and our four kids are driving down now from Buffalo (N.Y.). Tomorrow is my daughter Sienna’s 12th birthday.

Despite the attrition in registered boats, Scioli still expects 15 to 20 entries in the event between last-minute registration on site today and tomorrow morning.

Originally built with a full a canopy, the famed Gold Digger Outerlimits catamaran is in town for the Erie happening.

So far, seven boats have arrived including the Gold Digger Outerlimits catamaran, the original Speed Racer MTI catamaran and Digging It, a 52-foot Outerlimits V-bottom owned by Erie residents David and Nichole Weschler. The flashy custom-boat trio has attracted crowds of onlookers at the Erie Basin docks throughout the day.

“If you’re going to have boats in town early that people are going to enjoy looking at, those are three really good ones,” he added.

Scioli launched the Erie Poker Run in 2015. As it has been since the beginning, Erie Landscaping, Snow and Construction Services,which is owned by the Weschlers, is the event’s title sponsor.

“This would be our ninth year if we hadn’t canceled last year,” said Scioli. “I had hoped to make it 10 years, but after this one I’m done. This is my last year. Between my family, my T-shirt business and the restaurant, I have become so busy. I’m going in too many directions.

“But it’s still going to be a great weekend,” he added.

Docks simply don’t get better decorations than Speed Racer, Digging it and Gold Digger.

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