When the poker run waves died down, the hearts flush topped three aces to nab the $2,500 first prize at Borden Light Marina.
But that was hardly the highlight at the recent fourth annual event that saw 42 fast-moving boats with 200 participants competing along a 70-mile loop through Narragansett Bay for a good cause.
A check for $3,000 with another $1,200 expected is being donated to the William A. Fusaro Memorial Scholarship. The money helps high school graduates in need of a career boost — the type of students Fusaro worked with during his 25 years in guidance and other roles at B.M.C. Durfee High School.
Before he died five years ago of a rare blood disorder, Fusaro was Durfee’s first school-to-career coordinator, helping at-risk students, and served a term on the Diman Regional School Committee.
He was also well known around political campaigns, including former mayors Carlton Viveiros and Edward Lambert.
“This was the largest turn out for a poker run on Narragansett Bay,” said Borden Light’s president, Michael Lund.
“The weather was perfect, the harbormaster was very accommodating and we raised quite a few bucks for the scholarship,” said Lund, a city councilor.
He said 36 of the 42 boats, some coming from as far as New York, finished the loop.
Starting from Borden Light Marina near the Braga Bridge, the boats picked up their five-card draw cards first at the Providence River in Rhode Island's capital city, then at Warwick Cove Marina, then at West Wind Marina in Newport — with lunch — and in historic Bristol, R.I.
The finish line was back at Borden Light Marina where a Mendon man, Michael Spirito, aboard a 33-foot Stuthen, picked up his last heart to finish a high flush for the best poker hand.
Second prize was $1,000, based solely on the hand, not the time to finish the 70-mile run, Lund said.
That didn’t negate some impressive stats hitting the charts. Mike Fiore, who rode a 50-footer manufactured by his Outer Limits company in Bristol, sported the biggest boat.
The poker run was actually a test run for Fiore, who planned to do a transcontinental ride and deliver it to a buyer in England, Lund said.
For pure speed, a 40-foot Skater driven by a Brockton man reached speeds of 169 miles an hour, unofficially the fastest poker run speed recorded in the bay over the last 15 or so years, Lund said.
With twin 1,800-horsepower turbine engines, that power is roughly six times what a souped-up Corvette would haul, he said.
The sponsors paid $200 entry fees, and they and their riders could pay $100 for each additional poker hand to gain extra chances. Hundreds more spectators cheered them on.
The last couple of years Borden Light has donated proceeds to the Boys & Girls Club of Fall River. The first year the donation went to a needy high school student who wants to study abroad in Honduras.