Sweet 16! Lake Cumberland Poker Run Does Not Disappoint

Between increased sponsor support, an ever-loyal group of local participants and an increasing fleet of performance center consoles in the mix, this year’s Lake Cumberland Poker Run hosted by State Dock Marina in Jamestown, Ky., had it best turnout of participants in the last five years, according to Shanalda Burden, the Southeastern Regional Marketing Specialist for Suntex Marinas who took on some organization roles for the event in 2021.

Bill Day of Day’s Boat Sales in Kentucky enjoyed the Lake Cumberland Poker Run in a Fountain Powerboats 42 Lightning with twin Mercury Racing 700SCi engines. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

“Lake Cumberland Poker Run participants sure know how to have a good time,” Burden said on the phone Monday in a rather raspy voice after spending much of last week conversing, some of which was rather loudly during the Friday and Saturday night concert performances and DJ sessions. “With 149 entries, we had the largest number of registered boats for the event since 2017. We had more registrations than I expected and we had a record number of wristband sales for the event, which means there was close to 2,000 people on hand.”

The wildly popular, entertainment-filled, two-day poker run went off in a safe and relatively sane manner last weekend and speedonthewater.com’s Pete Boden was there to capture the action and stay up until 3 a.m., partying with the poker run faithful. OK that last part isn’t true, but he did have a good time, especially on Friday while flying with local pilot, Rick Purvis.

State Dock in Jamestown, Ky., hosted another memorable poker run last week.

“I’m pretty excited with how everything went and that we had an incident-free event,” Burden said. “We have some work to do moving forward and we already have some ideas on where we can improve. We’re going to be sending  surveys to everyone who participated this year and I can’t wait to see what review all of the feedback we get. We have to find out what the boaters want because without them, we have no event.”

Burden thanked one of the event’s newest sponsors, Boater Mates, a social media app exclusively for boaters, for stepping up to provide a variety of glowsticks and glowing objects for the event’s Glow Party, which she said was a blast.

“The Lake Cumberland Poker Run, to us, is all about wrapping up the poker run season with a bang,” said Ohio’s Chad Miller, who ran Ragged Edge, his 39-foot Outerlimits V-bottom, on Thursday only as he and his wife, Ravin, opted ride on friends’ boats on Friday and Saturday. “We had an absolute blast as usual. Our boat ran great on Thursday, but we decided it would be more fun to do the run and go to Harmon Creek with our friends and all hang out together.”

The Harmon Creek raft-up on Friday wasn’t nearly as large as it the next day, but the crowd of boats was quite the spectacle still.

The Millers were definitely not disappointed with that decision. Then again their option was joining Chris and Shelby Mattingly on their home lake in their incredible 43-foot Midnight Express center console powered by five Mercury Racing 450R engines. It doesn’t get much more fun, especially when the Boat Babe herself, Miss Shelby, is firing off a T-shirt cannon while going through “The Gauntlet,” the infamous one-way-in, one-way-out, between-raft-ups idle through Harmon Creek.

“The poker run was great this year,” Shelby Mattingly said, adding that they took “a ton of friends” in their Midnight on Friday. “The Midnight ran well and the water was pretty free of debris. We love being able to take so many of our friends with us. The event Saturday was so much fun. Shanalda really stepped it up. I didn’t see any issues overall. I just wish we could’ve stayed playing longer—they cut the DJ off at midnight (laughs).

“I’ll be honest, I’m so excited for next year already,” she continued. “We’ve been throwing ideas to the dock managers and they’re really liking them. I think next year’s poker run will be bigger than ever.”

Check out the slideshow above for more images from the 16th annual poker run.

She would know and so would some of the first-time attendees who plan to return next year, including Kort Wittich, who brought his 38-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran Back 2 Kort from Louisiana to the Kentucky event for the first time.

“Lake Cumberland was definitely a lot of fun,” Wittich said. “I’ve been wanting to go the poker fun for many years, especially because my good friend, Mike Goldbaugh, is like a celebrity out there. It worked out great because we stayed in a houseboat at State Dock, and in the slip next to us we had our Skaters (Mike and Angela Goldbaugh own a Skater 368 called LATE FEE$ x2).”

Louisiana performance boater Kort Wittich had a blast at his first Lake Cumberland Poker Run.

Wittich said he enjoyed running his boat on Friday and that on Saturday he tagged along with Kentucky brothers P.G. and Billy Georgiou in MegaFlexin, the MTI-V 50 luxury performance center console they took delivery of in time for the Kort 200 Fun Run that Wittich and friends hosted in Louisiana in May when the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run was cancelled for a third-straight year.

“The Gauntlet was crazy,” Wittich shared with a laugh. “There were so many boats out there—it was wild. The waterway and the wave action reminded me of Lake of the Ozarks with all the waves coming from every direction off the rocky sides. That wouldn’t deter me from going back though. In fact, if I go next year with Mike, aka DJ Goldnutz, I’ll probably stay an extra day and do some boating on Sunday. Brett Manire and the Performance Boat Center guys said Sunday is their favorite day on the lake.”

Fortunately for Burden and everyone associated with the Lake Cumberland Poker Run, a lot of people share Wittich’s sentiments and are looking ahead to the 2023 event.

Local performance boaters Greg and Heather Scheller ran their new-to-them Victory catamaran at the event.

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