People from as close as down the road and as far as California made their way to Kingston this week to take in the spectacle that is the 36th annual Kingston Poker Run.
The annual event sees some of the world’s finest offshore boats descend on the city for a chance at making a pretty penny, while having some fun along the way.
“We invented the sport back in the late ’80s. We brought it from Kingston to the U.S.A., and since then, there are over 200 Poker Run events happening worldwide,” said Bill Taylor, founder of the Poker Run.
Despite the blazing-fast boats in attendance, the event is not a race.
The game of chance sees boats travel to five different points through the Thousand Islands channel, from Kingston as far as Brockville and around the way, and at each point, the boaters collect a card.
Once the journey is done, everyone puts their cards on the table, and whoever has the best hand wins the pot, which is worth thousands.
“It gives these high adrenaline junkies a chance to get out and run their Maseratis, run their Lamborghinis of the water, at high speeds,” Taylor said.
While there are tons of boats in attendance for the event each and every year, there’s one that people, including Taylor himself, rave about year after year.
The boat, called My Way, is certainly a sight.
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As red as a perfect apple and as fast as lightning, My Way attracts a crowd every year, to the delight of its owner, Bill Tomlinson.
“This one has two turbine engines out of helicopters. They’re 6,000 horsepower, the two of them, 3,000 each,” Tomlinson said.
Yes, you read that correctly: the boat is powered by turbines taken from helicopters. That kind of firepower is needed in order to achieve a record speed like My Way did back in 2013, when it hit 360 km/h.
“That’s the fastest we’ve run it. It’ll run quicker than that, but I start running out of nerve up there,” Tomlinson said with a laugh.
Even at 80 years old, and after having run this event for over 30 years, Taylor says he still loves the sport, the spectacle, and the community.
“What do we feel? Excitement, adrenaline, rush, fun, activity, families getting together, running on the boats,” he said.
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