Elite Poker Runs Positioning Three Events for Three Different Segments

Knowing that one size never fits all—a lesson he’s learned well through spending much of his life in the restaurant/service industry—Anthony Scioli of Ellite Poker Runs LLC is targeting three decidedly different groups with his events on Lake Erie this summer. That’s the word from the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Scioli, who is entering his fourth season under the Elite umbrella.

Heading into its fourth year, the Erie Poker Run June 22-24 is being positioned as a “rough-water event for “old-school poker runners,” Scioli said. That makes sense given the rugged water conditions the run, which is backed by title sponsor American Custom Marine and key local backer Empire Landscaping, Snow and Construction Services, has faced for the past three years.

“For three years in a row, we’ve had rough water at Erie,” said Scioli. “People have come to expect that it’s going to be rough. We’re always hoping for nice weather, which we’ve had, and good running conditions but I think people like the challenge. It’s like, ‘Can you run in rough water?’ I think a few people will actually be disappointed this year if it turns out to be flat.”

With roughly 20 boats, last year’s inaugural Mentor Poker Run off the Ohio city of the same name was Elite’s smallest event in terms of fleet size. But that turnout made for an intimate experience, and this year Scioli is positioning the July 20-22, which runs concurrently with the first Race World Offshore event in Mentor, as his “family-oriented” run.

“Of all the poker runs I’ve put on, I had the best time in Mentor last year,” he said. “It’s a short run, just 40 miles, so it’s perfect for boats of all shapes and sizes. We’re going to have cruiser and center console classes this year.

“We work out of the Mentor Yacht Club, which is one of the nicest facilities of its kind in the country,” he continued. “They have all kinds of things planned for children and spouses who may or may not want to go out on the run. A lot of people brought their families last year and it worked out really well. So it’s our family run this year.”

Last and far from least on the Elite roster is the Ray Nuchereno Memorial Poker Run—formerly the Buffalo Poker Run—which first attracted Scioli to the world of poker-run organizing. With plenty of volunteer help from the Western New York Offshore Powerboat Association, Scioli successfully ran the event for a couple of years before taking a break. Last year, he returned to organizing the run under the Elite banner when the leaders of WYNOPA decided that they wanted out of the poker run organizing game and all the potential liability and other assorted headaches that come with it.

Scioli is positioning the event as his outfit’s “classic poker run.”

“For me, this is the run that started it all,” he said. “So it has a special place in my heart.

“I’m expecting to have 60 to 80 boats in Buffalo,” he continued. “But I have to be honest—I really don’t care about how many boats I have at any of my runs this year. I just want to put on great events and make sure everyone has a good time.”