The first thing to know about poker runs is that it’s not about the poker. The five-card hand is incidental. A poker run is also not all about the boats — who’s the fastest, the brightest, the loudest, the newest. For most participants, a poker run is about camaraderie and friendship among members of a pretty exclusive club.

We spent a June weekend immersed in poker run culture at the 10th Annual Four Horsemen Poker Run on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a gathering that drew 74 go-fast boats and more than 250 participants. We were among people who crave high-performance boats and the experience of going fast on the water. For many owners, a poker run is the best place to mingle with other performance-boat enthusiasts and feel welcome.

“When I try to launch my Outerlimits at McKinley Marina in Milwaukee, I get a frosty reception,” said one Four Horseman participant who asked that we not use his name. “I’ve been told I’m not welcome, even after I installed turn-down outlets to quiet the exhaust. I get the stink eye from the sailors, which ruins the

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