Destin, Florida’s Emerald Coast Poker Run is what I consider to be one of the best events in the country. The Emerald Coast’s geography make it ideally suited to attract boaters from all over. The barrier islands provide a large open inland waterway where you can run far and run hard. Boats of all sizes, shapes, and HP gather and unite to support the lifestyle and the charitable contributions coordinated by the Emerald Cost Foundation. The final ingredient is the overwhelming community support. The local business owners, politicians, and the community in general really get behind this event.

Yes it rained; and yes the Saturday run was officially cancelled but that certainly didn’t damper the spirits of the powerboaters at the Saturday Night Party.

Friday at Destin was pretty good. We got the boat in the water and ran in the bay for awhile and then hit the sand bar across from the Emerald Grand for the raft up party. A spectacular fun time was had by all. Many Powerboat Nation members were on hand as we fired the T-shirt Canon into the beachgoers with help from our Emerald Girls onboard Briana Marie and Natalia.

On Saturday we waited, and then waited some more with overwhelming optimism that was unaffected by the intellectual reality of the weather RADAR. Finally Jason Ventura of BrandX called and said now or you’re on your own. He and Joey had already loaded Pure Platinum and the Formula Mother Ship on the trailer and I was the last to go. I had to give in and with help from Natalia we ran the boat in a torrential downpour from the dock at AJ’s back to the Ramp.

After we finally got back to the Emerald Grand Resort to dry out and take a long hot shower it was time for the big party. Since the rain dispersed the group and I had heard of teams leaving, I was expecting an empty room.

My expectation was just as wrong as my weather forecasting. The convention center was packed. In fact I don’t remember a Emerald Coast Poker Run with this many people in the room- a thousand or maybe 2, I don’t know but it was great to see and so we stuck around all the way till the end. You see staying to the end is something I have never done. Usually I leave because I am bored and it’s time to get back to AJ’s or Sammy’s for the real after party. But this year was different, there were tons of people and we needed to stay and watch the final table to find out who would win the Grand Prize. A Brand New 2014 Ford F150 from Gary Smiths Ford was to be won by someone and as fate would have it some of the well known poker runners had made it to the table.

Chris and Angela Bradley (40 Nor-Tech) got a seat for having the worst poker hand of the night. John Woodruff (48 MTI) had a seat as well but neither of them were at the convention center. So of course substitutes were found and Kenny Armstrong (48MTI) took the seat for John and Cass Shewbart (38 Cig) somehow got Chris and Angela seat. The card game went on for a while and after Kenny and Cass both lost some hands and Cher (47 Fountain) sold her hand to the Texas Coalition AKA “Pirate Nation” Bill Robbins (38 & 42 Fountain, 38 Donzi, 40 Nor-Tech) sat in and then “Mr. Charity” Kenny Armstrong bought the last seat for $17,000.00. So now for the final hand of the night, two fine poker runners and friends both from the Great State of Texas sat across from each other. They both drew their hands, exchanged two cards and Kenny with a pair of aces over Bills pair of queens won the new truck valued at $42,000.00.

With 142 registered boats. Great community support and at least $150,000.00 raised for charity even with Saturdays Rain out the event was a huge success.

Thanks again to Brand X Hi Performance Marine for getting us to the Emerald Coast and back home to Fort Lauderdale.