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Play your best hand, mateys; it's Poker Run time
Pirates play their cards right in lake event for childrens charities
Volunteers at the Aqualand Marina “Card Stop” during last year’s Pirates of Lake Lanier Charity Poker Run use long poles to hand out large playing cards to boatloads of costumed Poker Run participants.

Pirates of Lanier Family Poker Run

When: July 20-22

Where: Lake Lanier Islands Resort

Cost: Deluxe boat entry, $175; Super Deluxe boat entry (includes more hands, tickets), $275; extra playing hands, $50.

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Late in the evening, Jarrett Gorlin walked up to last year to Sunset Cove during the Pirates of Lanier Family Poker Run knowing he had to beat a royal flush.

At the end of the night, Gorlin was able to match the hand and win in a highest card draw.

Though Lady Luck may have been on his side, he also knows the dead presidents in his wallet also played their part.

“Some people on the lake are probably sick of me winning. My point is, I’m there to do some good for a charity and kids who are in need,” Gorlin said. “And if I gotta throw four, $5,000 out there to make sure all the money goes back to them, then that’s what I do.”

This year’s poker run is July 20-22 at Lake Lanier, with the meet and greet on the first day and the poker run on the last day.

Having had a boat on the lake for most of his life, Gorlin called the event the “funnest day on the lake of the year.”

Winners do tend to return the prize money back to the organization and its charities, including Camp Sunshine, Camp Twin Lakes and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier. The two camp charities provide programs for children facing cancer or other serious illnesses and disabilities.

Participants sign up and buy a certain amount of hands. If you buy five hands, you would pick up five cards in sealed envelopes from each of the five stops along the lake.

Runners end the night at Sunset Cove with stacks of sealed cards, separating them out to play the hands.

“I start buying cards until I beat the one that’s up there,” Gorlin said.

Gorlin said the event has a great sense of camaraderie, as everyone there has the same goal to raise money for charity.

Last year’s event was preceded by tragedy. The night before the poker run, two couples from Kentucky were killed when their boat capsized July 15. The accident took the lives of the boat’s operator, Arthur J. McMahan, 46, his wife, Melissa Renee McMahan, 45, and passengers Anthony J. Reece, 45, and Tammy R. Reece, 44.

The McMahans were from Mount Washington, Ky., and the Reeces from Columbia, Ky.

To honor the fallen boaters, the event began with a memorial procession of boats from the Buford Dam to the Gainesville Marina.

“It was a tragedy, but the good that came out of it was a very clear reminder that you can have a lot of fun, but you can also get hurt,” Gorlin said.