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Poker Run Boats and Classic Cars!

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Poker Run Boats and Classic Cars!

A Day of Muscle and Show and Shine • Credit: Sheri Minardi

A Day of Muscle, Show and Shine

Can Am President’s Cup Poker Run and the Hilton Beach Classic Car Show

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If you love the need for speed, flashy boats, and the roar of powerful engines, then the Sault Ste. Marie Can Am President’s Cup Poker Run is for you! A poker run is an event with high-powered boats that must visit checkpoints, drawing a playing card in a sealed envelope at each one. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run. The best hand will win $10,000! Speed actually doesn’t determine the winner—the best poker hand does! 




The Fourth Annual Sault Ste. Marie Can Am Poker Run will be in the Sault July 26, 27, and 28, 2019. It is truly a Canadian and American event, as it takes place on the international border between the Twin Saults—Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Twin Saults are in the hub of the Great Lakes. 

In Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the run starts along the St. Marys River that flows from Lake Superior, and then heads east into Lake Huron down to St. Joseph Island and Thessalon. The boats then make their way back to the Sault. The first year garnered 25 boats and it has grown every year since. Last year there were 36 boats entered.



The Poker Run boats are 800 to 3,200-horsepower offshore‐style, v‐bottom, and catamaran race boats such as MTI, Cigarette, Formula, Hustler, Mystic, Nortech, Sunsation, Baja, Skater, Scarab, Fountain, and Donzi. They range from 10 m to 15 m (35 to 50 feet) in length. Bill Taylor, President of Power Boating Canada and Poker Runs America, facilitates the Poker Run in Sault Ste. Marie.


On Friday, July 26, there is an opening ceremony at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion. Early in the day, you can watch the boats pull into the Station Mall parking lot, the Delta Hotel parking lot, and the Roberta Bondar Pavilion where they are on display. 


It is a good opportunity to walk right up to the boats to get a good look at them on their trailers. This is a wonderful opportunity for pictures. If you want to watch the boats launching, be at the Bellevue Marina on Pine Street in the morning.




After checking out the boats, there are some restaurants to grab refreshments or a nice lunch or dinner. The Delta Hotel’s Restaurant is called “The View” and also has a patio bar. Next to the Roberta Bondar Pavilion is Montana’s BBQ and Bar at 89 Foster Drive.



Race Day Schedule - Saturday, July 27th, 2019

Card Stop Approximate Times

9:30 am – Opening Ceremonies at Roberta Bondar Park and Marina
10:00 am – Ladies and Gentlemen…..Start Your Engines!
10:30 am – Poker Run Start (upon approval from US Coast Guard)
11:00 am – Card Stop (floating stop near St. Joseph Island Bridge)
11:30 am – Bruce Mines, Ontario Card Stop
12:00 pm – Lunch Stop at Hilton Beach Marina Tilt’n Hilton
2:00 pm – Group start departing from Hilton Beach
2:40 pm – Thessalon, Ontario Marina Card Stop
3:15 pm – Richards Landing, Ontario Card Stop
3:30-4:30 pm – Estimated arrival time of boats returning to Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

The route is approximately 209 miles, including the lunch break and fuel stop.

Please be advise all times are approximate.

On Saturday morning, the boats gather in front of the marina and parade in front of spectators gathered along the boardwalk along the St. Marys River waterfront. The event kicks off with national anthems and opening ceremonies at 9:30am. The run begins at 10am upon approval from the US Coast Guard when the boats take off with a roar and a huge tail of water spouting out the back. They are off to their first checkpoint, a scheduled safety stop approaching the bridge crossing to St. Joseph Island. 


A great vantage point, where many spectators gather, is at the St. Joseph Island bridge, where the boats pass right underneath you towards the high rock cliffs by the lighthouses on the left. 

After navigating the scenic passage, boats will make their way to a new card stop location in 2019. The quaint town of Bruce Mines will welcome boaters for the first time to the Bruce Mines Marina to pick up card #3.


The teams then stop in Hilton Beach for a private lunch at the famous Tilt’n Hilton Steakhouse. Hilton Beach is my favourite spot to see the race boats. They arrive in Hilton around 10:30 am, give or take 15 minutes. 

You can stand along the marina and watch the boats racing towards Hilton. The boats moor at the marina, where you can walk the docks and see right in the boats, and many owners prop open the covers to show off the huge engines. The engines are very impressive, to say the least.


The race crews proceed to a private lunch while hundreds of spectators enjoy the docks.


Once the lunch is done, the race crews get back in their boats and line up outside the marina wall.

The signal is given and off they go to Thessalon. It is impressive to watch them race spouting water high into the sky as they disappear on the horizon. But don’t leave yet! In about 15 to 20 minutes, the boats can be seen on the horizon coming back to a checkpoint boat in front of Richards Landing for their last card. Once they have this card, they head back back up St. Marys River to where the run began. After a full day on the water, the Poker Run Participants have an awards dinner Saturday night at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.


Also on Saturday, July 27, 2019, from noon to 5 pm is the 19th Annual Hilton Beach Classic Car Show! The “Show and Shine” car show is an impressive display of about 100 muscle cars and classic trucks, either original or restored, as well as some specialty cars. You will be able to eat delicious food, shop craft vendors and listen to wonderful music provided by the live band Flathead Ford. It takes place at the Hilton Beach Marina.


There are giveaways all day long, and you can mingle with car enthusiasts as well as the Poker Run participants who love to take in the Car Show! If you have a car or truck you would like to enter, registration takes place in front of the Hilton Beach Municipal Office located on Bowker St. between the hours of 10 am and 1 pm.


For more information, you can contact Paula Cormier of the Hilton Beach Classic Car Show Committee at 705-246-2242 ext.102 or paula@hiltonbeach.com.




To finish off a great weekend of boating, why not ride in one of those high-powered Poker Run boats!  On Sunday, July 28, 2019 a few boats remain behind in Sault Ste. Marie, ON at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion, and for $100 per person you can participate in the “Ride of a Lifetime” charity event.  Proceeds raised go to The Twinkie Foundation. It is important to note that you need to bring a valid photo ID such as a Passport or Driver’s License for adults, and children need a birth certificate, as they are needed for customs clearance in order to ride.

The Official Hotels of the Poker Run are the The Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront and the Holiday Inn Express. These hotels and others are listed here if you need accommodations.


What a better way to spend a weekend out in the fresh air with the thrill of boats racing across the water, chasing the winning poker hand, and seeing classic trucks and muscle cars while eating great food and listening to live music? I haven’t missed a year yet! I hope to see you there!

See below for more information:

Hilton Beach Classic Car Show

Can Am President’s Cup Poker Run

July 26-28, 2019
Sault Ste. Marie Poker Run
Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada
Poker Runs America/APRA Event
(905) 844-8218 ext. 252

Discover this Region
Sault-Ste Marie is a 7 hour drive from Toronto

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