EASY MONEY

Chuck Lar­son learns that a poker run is not about the poker.

Boating - - OFF MY DOCK - By Charles Plued­de­man

The poster for the poker run was taped to a wall in the men’s room at the Lake View Inn, po­si­tioned at eye level where both my good friend Chuck Lar­son and his com­padre ’Tos Lund could pon­der it as they stood shoul­der to shoul­der.

“I see the ’Bago Blast Poker Run is com­ing up,” Chuck said.

“I see that also,” ’Tos replied. “Best hand wins $2,500.”

“That’s not chump change.”

“More than we’ve ever won in a wall­eye tour­na­ment.”

“Looks like easy money. We should en­ter.”

“In your Yar-Craft?”

Thus was hatched an­other scheme by the Lucy and Ethel of the Lake View Inn. And they ac­tu­ally pulled it off. Or could have pulled it off. If only they had hearts of stone.

When he told me about his plan, I di­rected Chuck to speedonthe­wa­ter .com so he could get a feel for poker-run cul­ture. Af­ter scan­ning the im­ages of speed­ing Outer­lim­its and Foun­tain and Nor-Tech poker-run spe­cials, the boys picked up on one de­tail: team shirts. There were two sur­plus blue-and­white softball jer­seys on the shelf at Team Sports, on which they printed Easy Money.

The day be­fore the run, Chuck and ’Tos cleaned the empty beer cans and bait cups out of Chuck’s 17-foot Yar-Craft. The bow fish­ing seat was re­moved to im­prove aero­dy­nam­ics. They ran a vac­uum over the car­pet and gave the gun­wales a coat of wax. Then Chuck pulled out a pair of “Rigged at Lake X” stick­ers he’d been hoard­ing for years, which he pasted to his mighty Mer­cury 115.

“Now we look le­git,” de­clared Chuck.

The morn­ing of the poker run dawned bright and calm, and Easy Money min­gled at the break­fast buf­fet, paid at­ten­tion at the cap­tain’s meet­ing, and then wisely shoved off with the “not so fast” group to gather their poker hand at the five card stops.

That evening, as they opened their fifth card en­ve­lope, Chuck and ’Tos could not be­lieve their luck. A third 10 gave them a full house and the win­ning hand. Team Easy Money as­cended to the stage for the pre­sen­ta­tion of gi­ant cer­e­mo­nial checks. First up was the third­place hand held by Goose Is­land from Chicago, whose owner took the mic, thanked the or­ga­niz­ers and an­nounced he was do­nat­ing his $500 to the event char­ity. Rous­ing ap­plause! The owner of Loonies from Min­neapo­lis did the same with his $1,000 sec­ond-place check. More ap­plause!

Later at the Lake View bar, Chuck ex­plained that a poker run is not about the poker or the prize money — it’s a fun day on the wa­ter for a good cause. And Easy Money got a stand­ing ova­tion when they gave back the $2,500 grand prize. When Chuck left the bar, he had that poster rolled up in his hand, a me­mento of a mo­ment of glory for a guy with a small boat and a big heart.

Af­ter scan­ning the im­ages of speed­ing Outer­lim­its and Foun­tain and Nor-Tech pok­er­run spe­cials, the boys picked up on one de­tail: team shirts.

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