Doug Wright West goes to Texas Outlaw Challenge Poker Run
Well we decided to set the itinerary for the 2012 season and we wanted to attend Poker Runs that had a great venue, hospitality and different boating scene. So with this in mind we decided to put this event on our list to just kinda check it out.
I can assure you with great confidence this event was outstanding and earned a "Five Pistols" score from me in all areas described above. It is now on our must attend events!
Leaving from San Diego:
Well I hitched up the Doug Wright and headed for Kemah Texas in the Houston area. It is a long two day drive towing a boat but in the end it was all worth it but for the drive coming home!
Upon arrival we were greeted by Roy Hunter and his crew who picked up the boat and put it place for the Kemah Boardwalk street show. The street show had many of the top names in boating all showcasing their boats, crews and rigs. Roy, Art, Ken, and Fast Eddie were the boating valet guys and worked their tails off making sure everyone was 100% satisfied. I was impressed right from the start with these guys.
The meet and greet was held at the Aquarium restaurant which had a great waterfront balcony and conference room. There everyone was treated to dinner and no host bar. Registration was also completed for early pre-registered participants with wrist bands for all events being mandatory.
The registration ladies were awesome and I was registered in a matter of minutes [I pre-registered highly recommend!]. I did not know anyone hardly but everyone was pleasant, friendly and very helpful even though I was from California. The hospitality was outstanding as big as the Lone Star state from the staff to all the local boaters.
Was the Extreme Shootout runs and the water was not cooperating. The conditions were not optimum for running the best numbers and the Top Boat hit a very fast 162MPH which was exceptional for the conditions. I believe he could have run a number far north of that easily if the water was not so bumpy.
We then headed with a full crew to Ken Armstrongs home/mansion for the pool party. Now here is were it get's tricky if your not from around these parts it will be a devil of a time navigating into the venue. We found and met another co-host Daryl Turner and he recommended we have a local guide. So gald we said yes... as our guide Tiffany Wilson... knows the area better than most. Getting to Ken's home is a long story but it's tricky getting in the bayou better have a guide is all I can say or follow someone in!
Upon arrival we were in shock Ken's home was incredible it had a crane in the driveway and a hotel sized pool w/open bar slide and tents. There was enough dock area to accomodate the entire Poker Run participants. Honestly, I cannot recall a poker run that had a persons home accommodate an entire event single handedly. It definitely had the Wow! factor for me and I am not exaggerating.
Not impressed yet you would be after having some of the best eat's at any Poker Run....the food would take it to a whole other level orbit... is a more appropriate description. They served some of the best seafood and Tex-Mex specialties I have ever had sit down or catered. From butterfly shrimp to carne asada top notch eats across the board....all pool side with no limits.
Once the festivities concluded at Ken Armstrong's home [Big Thank you to Ken... great guy and razor sharp wit!]. Everyone headed back to change it up for the Denim and Diamonds dinner at Endeavour Marine/ Sams Boat. This was also the locale for the Calcutta and silent auction items up for bid. If you don't know what a Calcutta is come out next year and learn!
The dinner and entertainment was awesome the food was again 5 star everyone was having a great time. Daryl Turner became the emcee for the Calcutta and it was fast and furious bidding...gathering up a ton of money for the Calcutta.
This is the Poker Run day with 9 stops and everyone get's a GPS assigned to your boat you can hit whatever top speed you want so make it count because at the end of the day you turn them in!
You only had to hit 5 stops to qualify for the Poker Run pot if you hit more stops you obtained extra cards and thus increase your chances of winning. This applied to only the Poker Run. We headed out in the Doug Wright with my bro KR and guide Tiff fully loaded boat including coolers and all the stuff for a full day of boating.
In the end we did all 9 stops and covered 91 miles and we could have done more but we ended up at an outrageous pool party at Harbor Walk in Galveston great ride over to this gem of a place.
At the end of the day you turn in your GPS and we did 101MPH on ours with 91 miles of boating for the day. Well after all we were in a Poker Run Edition Doug Wright so we had to cover all the stops. Card turn in was mandatory and picking hands by each Captain for the Calcutta was tense and exciting given the enormous stakes. Rumor has it the pot for the Calcutta was approaching 45K. Talked to Daryl Turner and no official numbers have been released as they are still tallying the numbers but the results will be posted on the site.
There was also a bikini party with some gorgeous women and hot boats as the back drop. Dinner and Saloon crawl were in full swing and most all of the participants and their crew were in attendance.
Everyone was winding down and the Red Eye pool party continued over at Allen Swindoll's home...gorgeous home. You could come by land or boat it had all means of access to pool, food and beverages. Although the crowd had dwindled the hospitality and atmosphere were still hard to beat on a hot Houston day. We also had a special guest and one of the best defensive players in the NFL join us... Mr. Mario Williams. What a nice guy posed for photos with everyone and just a down to earth guy! Great way to wind down one of the best Poker Runs I have ever been too!
Noteworthy: Paul Robinson the organizer and promoter was everywhere making sure everyone was welcome and well taken care of. Paul is a master socializer and put on a 5 star event and made sure we are coming back next year. I would also like to mention my new friend Lloyd Thornton who set up the course for the radar runs.... and several of the TOPPS guys who made my time in Houston very memorable and hard to forget.
TEXAS OUTLAW CHALLENGE.... was outstanding..... it was so much fun they should "Outlaw" Monday as a workday.
Footnote 1: KR and Tif you guys were the best crew a captain could ask for!
*****If I left out any of the Texas folks/friends please don't get a rope! I'll be back next year.