European performance-boat enthusiasts are getting deeper and deeper into the poker-run game. The 27-foot Checkmate above is Dutchman Helmich Hillen's poker run ride.
Did you know that Scandinavia has a vibrant poker run scene? Neither did I, at least until Helmich Hillen, who lives in the Netherlands and owns a 27-foot Checkmate V-bottom, reached out to me via Facebook during the holidays. Seems my “Is Boyne Thunder The World’s Best Poker Run?” column in December got his attention.
“My response to that is if you have time, check out some European poker runs,” Hillen wrote. “I know that is also in the same months as the U.S.A. poker runs, but maybe it can be a great article. Let me know what you think. The Scandinavian countries are quite big for poker runs. I go every year to Sweden for the poker runs over there.”
While Hillen’s English isn’t perfect, it’s better than a lot I’ve heard and read from native speakers in this country—and way better than my Dutch—so we had no trouble communicating. And I was surprised to learn that Europe’s hottest poker runs aren’t in the sexy Mediterranean, but in its harsher northern environs.