Approximately 23 speed boats took to the water Saturday morning as part of the 4th annual Sault Ste. Marie Poker Run.
This run takes boaters from the Sault up to St. Joe’s Island, Bruce Mines, Hilton Beach, Thessalon, Richard’s Landing and back to the Sault, making stops at each destination along the way to pick up playing cards. The person with the best poker hand at the end of the day will win a cash prize.
“This event is really great,” Alana Kenopic Manager of Sports Tourism & Special Events for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation.
“It’s not just Sault Ste. Marie; what we’re seeing is an economic impact in the region as well. Because we have the card stops – Thessalon, Bruce Mines, Hilton Beach – those areas are starting to build up as well around this event, so we’re seeing the spin-off grow that way, which is fantastic.”
Kenopic said they’ve also starting seeing the poker runners themselves coming back to the city in different ways, such as to take the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, going skiing at Searchmount Resort, etc.
“So it’s bringing an exposure level to Sault Ste. Marie in a completely different way.”
She said this event always draws a huge crowd, from the marina to the shorelines to the card stops.
“It’s always packed,” she said.
Bill Taylor, the President of Poker Runs America, told SaultOnline that they partnered up with the SSMEDC partly because of how spectacular the waterways are. He said the reception this event has gotten in the past four years has been great.
“We love the water, the people are genuine, they’re friendly, they’re all open to us when we come into town,” he said. “It’s just a wonderful group of people here.”
He said his favourite part about this event is witnessing everything first hand – the crowds, the boats, the boaters, the adrenaline, etc.
“Seeing the smiling faces and bringing the joy to the people here in town,” he explained. “They just love it. And they love it more and more each year.”
Pierre Savoi, Poker Run Event Administrator for Poker Runs America, said he thinks Sault Ste. Marie is a great hosting city for this event.
“Working with the tourism office and all of the partners is fantastic,” he said.
“They make sure that the poker runners are well received when they come in, everybody talks to them and helps them out. This is what builds an event.”