Nestled in the spectacular rolling hills of Virginia that at first glance appear better suited to raising horses than marine horsepower, Smith Mountain Lake seems an unlikely place to find a thriving annual poker run. But that’s exactly what happened last Saturday when 52 go-fast powerboats from 10 different states, as far away as Indiana by way of Florida in one case, took to the idyllic waterway. A broad mix of V-bottoms and catamarans—the boats ranged from 16 to 42 feet long—comprised the fleet.
After a casual fun run on Friday, the event officially kicked off that evening with a captain’s dinner at Mango’s Bar and Grill. The seven-stop run left Mariner’s Landing in Huddleston, Va., just after 11 a.m. the following morning. With four tens and an ace, local participant Dean Clarke of Tappahannock, Va., came away from the poker run with the best hand and $1,500.
Waterways do not get any prettier than Smith Mountain Lake. All images courtesy/copyright David Andrews/Performance Images. (Click image to enlarge.)
But like most poker runs these days, the Smith Mountain Lake event, which raises money for local charities such as the Smith Mountain Lake Sail and Power Squadron that provides boating safety classes, wasn’t really about the best cards or the fastest boats. It was all about camaraderie and socializing among folks with the same passion in an easygoing, family-oriented atmosphere.
“Although there are plenty of evening parties, this is still a run you can bring your kids to and have a good time,” said David “Swede” Andrews, the photographer who captured the event, of Performance Images. “Mariner’s Landing Resort is a great location for a run as it has a golf course, a boat ramp, condos and a pool, and it has enough room for all the participants and families. There are plenty of restaurants and bars on the water as well to keep you entertained, as well as a mini-golf built on top of the docks at Bridgewater Marina.”