Boats gather at Leverick Bay Resort and Marina after collecting playing cards from stops across the territory during the Leverick Bay Poker Run. The event returned Sunday after a three-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: JAVIERTO MAR)

Following a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was optimism in the air at this year’s Leverick Bay Poker Run.

“It went very well, especially after restarting the event after three years not doing it because of the pandemic,” said co-organiser Alex Yates.

On Sunday, more than 100 boats took part in the event’s 19th year, which drew about 3,000 people to Leverick Bay as 1,600 others participated by boat or ferry, organisers said. The event welcomed participants not only from across this territory but also from the United States Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, New York, Canada, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

“We were grateful for the support from the local community who attended the event in similar numbers to 2019,” co-organiser Joel Brillert told the Beacon. “Our sponsors supported us as they did in the past, and we are thankful for their continued contribution to the event and the BVI community.”

Poker hands

This year, participating boats collected oversized playing cards by visiting Loose Mongoose on Beef Island, Foxy’s Taboo on Jost Van Dyke, Pirate’s on Norman Island, the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park on Tortola, and Saba Rock.

Then they returned to the Leverick Bay Resort and Marina for a fashion show followed by a buffet and prize-giving ceremony.

At the fashion show, which was hosted by Mr. Nice Guy, models strutted a runway that stretched over a pool as they showcased outfits that included swimwear and casual wear.

“The fashion runway will always be an avenue to admire creativity and inspire innovation,” said Saad Kaddoura of Mr. Nice Guy.

Models strut the stage on Sunday at the Mr. Nice Guy Fashion Show at Leverick Bay Resort and Marina. (Photo: JAVIERTO MAR)
The winners

At the award ceremony, the grand prize of $8,000 for the best poker hand went to Peter Penman of Anegada, who competed aboard his boat Broke Millionaire.

Mr. Penman donated $2,000 of his prize money to the Family Support Network.

The second-place prize of $5,000 went to Enos Aaron of Tortola, and Virgin Gorda’s Sinclair “Tiger” Nickie took home $2,000 for third.

“Poker Run was a great experience,” Mr. Nickie said. “It was my second time competing. I placed first four years ago. It was a challenge during the race but ended up being a great day for me.”

Net proceeds from the event will go to the Virgin Gorda Charitable Trust, which will distribute them to local charities including the Animal Rescue Control of Virgin Gorda and others, according to organisers.


The poker run was founded in 2001 by Nick and Monica Willis, former managers of the Leverick Bay Resort and Marina.

The first year, 12 boats showed up, and the event grew steadily before being stalled by the pandemic.

Now, Mr. Brillert is already looking ahead to make 2024’s event the biggest yet.

“Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the original Leverick Bay Poker Run,” he said. “We strive to bring more energy, more entertainment options for participants and guests, and involve even more of the BVI community in what will be the biggest poker run to hit the territory.”