Tickfaw 200 Powerboat Poker Run
Once more renowned for picking strawberries not royal flushes, Livingston Parish now hosts Louisiana’s largest poker powerboat run, Tickfaw 200, bringing performance powerboaters to the bayou state in springtime.
“It’s the Baja 500 and the Iditarod of powerboating,” said Keith Cacioppo, a lifelong boater with a 30-foot cruiser who’s attended The Tickfaw 200 for 11 straight years.
Cacioppo has never run the 200, but is one of hundreds of spectator boats charging the event with energy and cheers.
“My boat couldn’t handle it,” said Cacioppa. “This is for the big dogs. I’ve been a boater all my life. I loved going to the NOLA Lakefront, watching Al Copeland run his famous Popeye’s boat. After Katrina, I moved to Springfield. I was blown away seeing boats as far away as Alaska and California, including the whole east coast and all southern states. I took a ride on a 42-foot Fountain and the roar of the engines had me hook, line and sinker.”
With 300 cards sold, nearly that many performance powerboaters provide exhilarating action, rumbling through eight locations amid fishing and magnificent wildlife in the bayous, swamps and marshes extending from brackish waters.
Drawing cards for a poker hand, the run departs from Blood River Landing with the first stop to draw a card on the Tickfaw River’s Prop Stop, continuing to Lagniappe and Canal Bank Bar on the Diversion Canal, then to Gators Den in beautiful Manshac, before looping back south to Riverside Bar and Morton’s in Madisonville. Then the course allows boaters to zoom straight across Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans' legendary West End Canal to The Blue Crab. The route then continues east on Lake Pontchartrain to The Blind Tiger in Slidell, with the last card drawn at Shaggy’s Pass Harbor in Pass Christian, MS.
While not a timed event, the testosterone, horsepower and eye candy of the finest collection of Cigarettes and Fountains makes for a fun 200 mile course. A $100 donation buys a hand. Each participant is given a brown envelope with a map and compass readings of hot spots with instructions to pull one card each contained in a sealed, white envelope. At the 7:30PM deadline at Blood River Landing, all participants return to open their cards, choosing their five best hands.
Challenging current and tides make the Tickfaw River tricky to navigate.
“This is not your typical poker run,” said Cacioppa. “Its twisting, turning bayous and lakes can turn up six footers on any given day. By the time you’ve completed the 200 you’re white knuckled at the wheel.”