In the Ocean City area, we’re pretty used to hearing about poker runs – motorcycles, bicycles, classic cars, you name it – but never before has there been an on-water poker run. On Sunday, October 14th, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program will run Ocean City’s first-ever kayak poker run. The event, titled the Poker Paddle Pandemonium, will benefit the program that helps protect and nurture our coastal bays and watersheds.

During an organized poker run, participants must visit at least five checkpoints where they can draw a card from a deck. The object is to collect the best poker hand without having to worry about time. Poker runs generally aren’t considered a race; they’re meant to be slow events for recreational purposes.

The Poker Paddle Pandemonium is a padding event – not a race. There are no prizes for speed and it does not matter who is first to complete the course. Winning is purely a matter of chance.
“The only thing that really matters is that everyone has fun and the best hand wins,” said Sandi Smith, the MCBP’s Fundraising and Marketing Specialist.
The winning hand is determined by standard poker hand rankings. Five cards will be used to build a winning hand.
“Participants will be handed a card from a Maryland Coastal Bays Program representative at each checkpoint. The representatives will then record the card to ensure that there are no disputes about which card a participating team actually have,” continued Smith.
The course checkpoints include:
  • Seacrets
  • Fager’s Island
  • Finnegan’s Irish Pub
  • The 45th Street Taphouse
  • MCBP committee boat that will be stationed in the bay
Prizes will be distributed for best poker hand, best team theme, and most creative team. Fun, up cycled kayak parts have been arranged to form trophies that will be distributed to the top three finishing teams.
Traditional poker hand rankings, highest to lowest, will be used. If you are not familiar with poker, don’t get worried; below is a chart that explains the rankings:
Royal Flush

Run of sequential cards from 10 to Ace, with all cards of the same suit.

Straight Flush

Run of sequential cards, all cards in the same suit, but not Ace high.

Four of a Kind

Four cards of the same rank (ex: four Aces, four Kings, etc.)

Full House

Three cards of the same rank plus a pair (ex: three Aces and a pair of Kings)


Five cards all of the same suit.

Straight (Run)

Five sequential cards, not of the same suit.

Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same rank (ex: three Aces, three Kings, etc.)

Two Pair

Two sets of pairs (ex: a pair of Aces and a pair of Kings)


Two cards of the same rank (ex: two Aces, two Kings, etc.)

High Card

If you have none of the above, then the highest value card in your hand plays.

Photo of a model of the Pungo 120 by Wilderness Systems that will given away during a raffle on Sunday.

Each participating restaurant stop will offer discounts on select items to all who are participating in the poker run. Bars will run Happy Hour prices during the event, too.

A Wilderness Systems Kayak, the Pungo 120, will be raffled off at the event. Raffle tickets are available for purchase on the Maryland Coastal Bays Program’s website. Raffle tickets are $5 each and may also be purchased during the event.

Pre-registration is required to participate and can be done online, too. All competitors must be registered prior to October 14th, 2012. Those interested may also contact Sandi by calling 410-213-2297, ext. 107.

The cost to enter the Poker Paddle Pandemonium run is $200 / foursome, $50 / person, or $45 / person if you bring your own kayak. Kayaks will be provided by SuperFun EcoTours and Ayers Creek Adventures, two of the area’s kayak, SUP, and eco-tour businesses. Several local businesses are sponsoring teams that will compete in the event and represent their establishments.

Registrants must check-in at Seacrets at noon on Sunday before they can compete. Paddling begins at 1 pm and the awards ceremony and kayak raffle will commence at 5 pm.

Get the down-low on Poker Paddle Pandemonium:

Benefiting the Maryland Coastal Bays Program
Sunday, October 14th, 2012
12 – 5 pm
Starting at Seacrets
Register on MCBP website or by calling 410-213-2297, ext. 107