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About Boyne Thunder Poker Run

Boyne Thunder is an eagerly anticipated annual charity boating event in Boyne City, Michigan, offering something for everyone. The event brings together powerboat enthusiasts from across the country for a fun weekend on the award-winning shores of Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. The poker run is the highlight of the event, where participants collect cards at various checkpoints along the 150-mile route, with the best hand winning a grand prize. There are also social events, parties, and a live auction to raise funds for our partners, Camp Quality and Challenge Mountain, two local charities supporting children with cancer and people with disabilities.

Boyne City Main Street, a volunteer-driven program dedicated to supporting the success and historic richness of downtown Boyne City, oversees the annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run. It has become a highly anticipated event in the boating community and beyond, giving a unique opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of Northern Michigan while supporting a worthy cause!

Learn About Boyne City Main Street

Boyne Thunder Mission

Something For Everyone

To provide an exciting and unique boating event to draw people to Northern Michigan.

Raise Money For Charity

To raise money for local charities that support children with cancer and people with disabilities.

Promote Boyne City

To promote our beautiful Boyne City and the surrounding areas.

Our History

Boating Since 2004

It’s truly remarkable what can happen when a group of innovative minds come together to brainstorm ideas. Such was the case in 2004 when a small but passionate group of Boyne City residents came up with the idea for the Boyne Thunder event. Their mission was clear – to create a fundraising event that would support the activities of the Boyne City Main Street Program, a new economic development initiative for the community. The program aimed to breathe life into Boyne City’s downtown and preserve its historic charm while fostering a diverse and stable business environment.

From its inception, Boyne Thunder has proudly partnered with Camp Quality, a non-profit organization that provides year-round support programs and camping experiences to children with cancer and their families. The event also joined forces with the Boyne City Yacht Club early on and, more recently, welcomed Challenge Mountain as a beneficiary – a non-profit organization that enriches and improves the lives of the mentally and physically challenged through outdoor recreation.

Today, Boyne Thunder has grown into a highly-anticipated event, attracting 120 participant boats and over 550 active participants nationwide. It also draws thousands of spectators on boats and on shore who come to relish all that northern Michigan has to offer throughout the 150-mile course.

Learn About Our Partners

Frequently Asked Questions

Boyne Thunder is a power boat event that began in 2004 to raise funds for three beneficiaries: Camp Quality, Challenge Mountain and BC Main Street. Since the inception, $1,500,000 has been donated.

There is an event schedule for both the participants and spectators:

View Participant Schedule

View Spectator Schedule

The boats range in size from 22 to 55 feet in length with horsepower ranging from 425 to 3600. Some boats are capable of speeds of over 150 mph.

Boyne Thunder is a poker run, not a race. This means the winner is decided by the best poker hand collected along a specified route, and not who is first to complete the course. Participants will pick up one sealed envelope containing a playing card at each of five different stops along the route.

The course is approximately 150 miles long, traversing both Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan.

The fleet will leave the Boyne City Marina at approximately 10:00 a.m. The boats will form four distinct groups, according to their cruising speed and boat length and begin the parade laps around 10:15 a.m. Each group will pass in front of the city marina following their group’s pace boat before heading west to Charlevoix.

The fleet will begin to pass through Charlevoix at approximately 10:30 a.m. before heading to the first card stop near the marina in Elk Rapids. The second card stop is near the marina in Northport and then the boats go back to Charlevoix for lunch, arriving at the marina in Round Lake around noon. At approximately 1:35 pm, the fleet will leave Charlevoix and head to the third card stop in Bay Harbor, and then on to the fourth card stop at the docks in Harbor Springs. The boats will pick up their fifth card in Horton Bay before turning in their cards in Boyne City.

The poker hands are revealed after a participant dinner and auction Saturday evening in the Poker Run Village, located near the Boyne City Marina.

The prizes for the best poker hand are: 1st place, $5,000; 2nd place, $3,000; 3rd place, $1,500. There is a $500 prize for the last place hand as well.

Best place to check is social media.  We do have photographers in a helicopter covering the course and will publish some of their pictures right after the event. In addition, we will have a video of this year’s event published about two weeks after. Follow us on social media for updates.

Those watching Boyne Thunder from out on the water may notice boats and sea-doos along the course flying orange flags. These are official Boyne Thunder Marshall watercrafts and are there to keep the area clear of non-participant boat traffic along the course, for everyone’s safety, as well as offer assistance to participants with mechanical issues.

While the majority of the participants come from the Great Lakes region, this event has drawn participants from as far away as Florida, California, Washington and Canada!

Boyne Thunder Merchandise can be purchased at tents in both Boyne City and Charlevoix. Schedule is as follows:

BOYNE CITY: Friday 9 am – 9 pm & Saturday 9 am – 12 pm

POKER RUN VILLAGE CHARLEVOIX: Saturday 10 am – 2 pm near the tent on Bridge Street

Find all information related to sponsorships here.

Experience Boyne Thunder