Gallery: Ante-up at the River Rats Second Annual Poker Run

The second annual Tri-State River Rats PWC Jamboree and Poker Run welcomed 47 people riding 42 skis to the beautiful Shanghai Resort on Norris Lake in La Follette TN, September 7-10. Beautiful weather greeted riders each morning, mixing with the mist off the lake where the cool air and warm water meet; creating some enviable photo ops.

Delegates from 11 states joined us. Our friends from the northeast brought with them their signature run, the “Sunrise Burn”, which is exactly what it sounds like; joined by a smattering of others willing to deal with the early hour, cool temperatures, and mild headache from the night before.

“In addition to the Saturday Poker Run Saturday, we toured most of the Lake on Friday with the early arrivals,” said Steve Kresko, Tri-State River Rats president. “In the evening, we grilled out and enjoyed the fireplace and renewed friendships on the cabin porch.

“I can’t thank the folks at Shanghai enough for their hospitality and professionalism,” Kresko said. “We all but took over the whole place for the weekend. They welcomed us, and went far beyond expectations. I think it was one of the key things that made the weekend great. We also had an incredible group of PWC riders. But I can’t forget other marinas involved, Hickory Star, Stardust, Whitman Hollow, and Beach Island Marina/Bubba Brews. Everything came together at the right time, in the best place, with awesome friends. It doesn’t get better.”

The prizes didn’t suck either. Grand prize, a GoPro Hero 5, donated by Yamaha of Louisville, was won with three aces. In addition to the Poker Run itself, participants purchased raffle tickets for 32 other prizes, totaling nearly $2,000. Sponsors included Adam and Eve, The Dirty Turtle Off-Road Park, Car Stuff of Louisville, JetRenu, Academy Sports, Whitman Hollow Marina, Torx Racing, Tyler’s Personal Watercraft Service, and Total Truck Parts. Raffle prizes included gift cards, a PWC stereo system, flip flops, water shoes, sunglasses, PWC wax, PWC water spot remover, sunscreen and tee shirts.

We purposely set up the poker run so that it couldn’t be a race, no benefit to arriving first at any of the stops, so everyone could enjoy the ride. Ken Meadors acted as the dealer, keeping track of everyone, and tallying the hands at the end, with other River Rats leading the groups and watching out for the riders, to make sure everyone was safe and happy.

How often does everything go right? Cerulean blue skies all weekend allowed us to ride all day and deep into late sunset, showing those new to the lake all the best places. The poker run itself went smoothly. All the riders were courteous and considerate of others on the lake, showing our sport at its very best.

Next year’s Poker Run will be the same time, the weekend after Labor Day. Contact the Tri-State River Rats group on Facebook, or through our email at

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