Impressive boats, the kind you hear the rumble of their engines long before you see them, come from near and far for an annual event on Lake Lanier. That event is the annual Pirates of Lanier Charity Poker Run hosted by the local nonprofit Lanier Partners of North Georgia Inc.
“Lanier Partners of North Georgia spends months planning the most festive and exciting weekend on Lake Lanier,” said W. Dale Ozaki, president of the organization. “We are a group of volunteers that share a common interest in boating, our local lake community and serving children in need.”
The 13th annual event held Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16, had an impressive turnout with 230 boats registered and boats coming from New York, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. This year’s event completely sold out the dock slips at Margaritaville’s Port of Indecision on Saturday.
The poker run is the Lanier Partners of North Georgia’s primary fundraiser for the year with a second fundraiser being a Holiday Boat Parade in December. The fundraisers allow the Lanier Partners to donate money to other charities selected each year. The charities that will benefit from this year’s poker run, which collected more than $100,000, include the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier, Camp Sunshine, Camp Twin Lakes, Edmondson Telford Child Advocacy Center and the Georgia Sheriffs Youth Homes.
The primary venue for the poker run was Margaritaville at Lanier Islands with card stops at Holiday Marina, Lazy Days Marina, Port Royale, Aqualand Marina, Gainesville Marina and Habersham Pointe. Once participants received their cards, they went back to Landshark Landing at Margaritaville to play their hands.
Friday was a day for the boat crews to socialize, learn the rules of the game and review the safety rules for the event, as well as have their photos taken by a helicopter crew at Buford Dam.
The main event was held Saturday, where the object of the poker run was to collect cards and at the end of the event be left with the best poker hand of all the participants. Each boat set out from its home dock or marina on the lake and then went around to eight stops on the lake to pick out a card.
If participants were not quite satisfied with their “natural hand,” or the hand that they were dealt at the various stops, they could buy additional cards Saturday evening. These were simply the “best hand” winners.
Winners for Best Overall Hand were Eric Belisle in first place, Jon Russell in second place and Jessica Kirley in third place.
The winners for Best Natural Hand were Eric Belisle in first place (Belisle won both tiers with separate hands), Nicole Sosnow in second place and finishing third was Craig Miller.
The 2022 Hero Award was presented to Bonny Putney with the Lake Lanier Association. Putney received the award for her dedication to keeping the shores of Lake Lanier as pristine as possible with her work on the annual Shore Sweep project. She has spent more than 20 years growing the Shore Sweep initiative into what it is today. Because of her, more than 85 tons of trash and debris is removed from the shores of the lake annually.
The winner for Best Crew went to “The Money’s in the Mail.”
Winning for Best Decorated Boat was “Leave a Message.”
The boat that won Best Overall was “Out on a Limb.”
The award for Best Decorated Sponsor Boat went to AllSouth Autosports with “Buck, Buck, Goose.”
Lanier Partners of North Georgia would like to thank the poker run’s primary sponsor, Dane Michael with Lakeside Marine and Motorsports, for their generosity.
Anyone interested in donating to the cause can still do so at lanierpartners.org.
FEATURED PHOTO: The boat that won Best Overall was “Out on a Limb.” Photo by Sydney and Ronnie Gordon.