On May 24, hundreds of boaters competed in the 14th annual Leverick Bay Poker. The event doled out large cash prizes and donated thousands of dollars to charity.
According to co-organizer Javier Lopez from JL Marketing in Puerto Rico, 225 boats participated in this year’s event, with 185 poker hands sold.
“The Poker Run is one of the biggest nautical events in the Caribbean,” Lopez said. “It has been growing 15 to 20 percent over the years.”
Participants compete for the best poker hand to win cash and prizes. This year’s winner, Javier Maduro, took home $8,000 with a Full House.
Cards were located at various stops around the territory. The event started at Leverick Bay Resort and Marina where participants picked up their first card. Boaters then made their second stop at JY Harbour View Marina on Tortola. The third stop was at Scaramouche on Frenchmans Cay and then on to Pirates at Norman Island. The last two stops were at the Rendezvous Bar at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and the finish back at Leverick Bay.
Organizers hope next year there will be web cameras at each stop so participants from around the world can play.
“Even if people are in Boston or New York they will be able to play and follow the event online,” Lopez said. “That is going to be the next step where we want to take the event.”
All told, 25 boats from Puerto Rico made the trip to the BVI. An additional 42 came from the United States Virgin Islands, while the rest of the fleet was made up of BVI boaters.
Friends Rambo Jack and Akeem James competed aboard the 38-foot centre-console powerboat We Dem Boys.
“It’ll hold like 15, but we only roll with ten persons,” Jack said. “It’s not a speedboat, but like a cruising boat, so we don’t go 90 and 80; we just [go around] 50.”
Jack, who works at the Nanny Cay charter company Island Time, said his uncle was captaining the boat and he was the ‘co-pilot’ for the day.
The friends had taken part in the event three times before.
“We never won,” said Mr. James, who works for the BVI government’s Department of Island Revenue. “We always try. We always try.”
During last year’s Leverick Bay Poker Run, a two-boat collision at the start of the event left seven people hospitalized with serious injuries.
This year, organizers took extra safety precautions and everything went smoothly.
“No accidents were reported,” Lopez said. “We are very happy that all the safety measures were followed.
1st prize $8,000:
Javier Maduro/Full House/Aces
2nd Prize $5,000:
Jamison Hopkins/Full House/Queens
3rd Prize $3000:
David James/Full House/Jacks
$10,000 —VG Diabetes Association
$1,000 — VG Animal Rescue and Control
$2,000 — Raw Skillz
$1,000 — Cancer Society (VG Branch)
Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.