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One Wet Game

One Wet Game of Poker

Loud engines, big boats and boisterous bikinis combined for a sensational spectacle on the water this year for the 11th annual Leverick Bay Poker Run. More than 100 boats and their captains and crews pulled 181 poker hands at the event that drew more than 1,000 participants locally and regionally from as far as Miami.

Loud music and super-powered diesel engines roared at Leverick Bay as boats congregated at the marina for the start of the event on a sunny and mildly choppy May morning. The energized spectacle would take revelers on a high-speed tour of BVI waters from Scrub Island to the Willy-T to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and back to Leverick. At each spot, contestants pulled a playing card that entered them for a chance to win $7,500. Each five-card hand cost a $100 entry fee. As one of the most highly attended marine events in the territory, the excitement alone was enough to go all-in on.


This year, the event drew the attention of international cable news giant CNN, whose announcer Erin Burnett covered the event in a light-hearted feature that focused largely on Virgin Islands resident billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who entered three boats in the event. Burnett described the event as “the craziest poker game I’ve ever heard of,” and added her gleeful observations of the foreign event.

“Ok, so they line up with beers in hand waiting as much as an hour to pick up one card from five different islands,” she said. “It was a lot of boats, it was a lot of beers and it was a heck of a lot of bikinis.”

Indeed, the event was well celebrated, especially by Leverick Bay General Manager and event organizer Nick Willis. “I mean, the place was packed,” he said when asked about the event’s success. “It’s just always getting bigger and bigger.”



Although this year saw numerous competitors from Puerto Rico, St Martin and Florida, Virgin Gorda resident Joseph Smith went home with the first-place prize of $7,500 with a straight flush. After collecting his prize, the exuberant Smith, who was aboard the boat Chilli Water, flipped into the pool. The award ceremony, held on the catwalk at the Leverick Bay pool, was attended by more than 1,000, according to Willis’ count. This year, the Poker Run donated $4,000 to the Virgin Gorda Charitable Trust an $1,000 to Virgin Gorda Animal Rescue. In total, the event has raised $86,000 since its inception in 2002.

Hot Hands
First: Joseph Smith (BVI) Chilli Water; Straight Flush $7,500
Second: Bob Barhart (Miami) Predator; 4 Kings $4,000
Third: Troy Barzey (Puerto Rico) Pacifier; 4 Queens $2,000

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