An August 2004 trip
to Fort Walton Beach by travelwisdom
Quote: The annual Emerald Coast Poker Run is an opportunity for poker run enthusiasts to enjoy the "best beaches in Florida" and try their hand at winning big prizes.
Attraction | "Emerald Coast Poker Run Is Fun on the Water"
Promoted as "the best and the biggest," the Annual Emerald Coast Poker Run in Fort Walton Beach, Florida draws over 250 boats and 1,500 participants each August.
Who says the Poker Run is "the best and the biggest"? Powerboat Magazine (April 2004), chose the Emerald Coast event as the Best Poker Run in the United States and No. 2 in North America in the Top Ten Best Poker Runs.
Since most poker runs are for-profit events, the Emerald Coast Poker Run also lays claim to being the largest charity poker run in the U.S.
For boaters, the purpose of the extravaganza is to enjoy a day on the water, collect a winning poker hand, and leave with the grand prize. In 2004, the winner drove away in a Nissan 350Z from Hampton Automotive Group.
For organizers and the 200-plus volunteers who make it happen, the Poker Run raises money for area youth charities and promotes the community.
For the uninitiated, here’s how the poker run works: Anyone can play. You need a boat(rentals available in the area)and the entry fee. While there is a virtual parade of spectacular high-performance boats, no boat is too small because the run is not a race. Speed plays no role in winning. The $400-per-boat entry fee entitles participants to four poker game vouchers and passes to the evening Poker Run Game and Party.
Fun on the water kicks off at 10 a.m. and for the next seven hours boats travel to nine stops spread between Destin, Niceville, Shalimar, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre, and Pensacola Beach to have game vouchers validated. Players need seven stop validations to qualify for a hand at the evening’s game. Each stop is a mini-festival with refreshments, special events, and plenty of spectators.
Action on the water ends at 5 p.m. and moves to the Emerald Coast Conference Center for the celebration party and the big game. Validated vouchers are exchanged for poker cards and play begins. During round one, players may buy up to four extra cards. In a twist on traditional poker games, round two includes the four players with the best poker hands, the two players with the worst hands, and a couple of seats are luck-of-the-draw from early entries and a raffle.
As play progresses and tension builds, players have the opportunity to auction off their hand or seat at the table keeping, 80 percent of their profit. The remaining 20 percent goes to foundation charities. Play continues until only two players remain and a cut of the cards gives the grand prize to the high card.
Plan ahead for 2005 to join the fun as a spectator or player and enjoy a visit the most beautiful beaches in Florida!Check out the Poker Run website at www.emeraldcoastpokerrun.com
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2004
Emerald Coast Poker Run
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32549
Mary Esther, Florida