Earlier this year, Anthony Scioli, the man behind Elite Poker Runs LLC, took over what was formerly called the Buffalo Poker Run from the Western New York Offshore Powerboat Association. The club wanted out of the poker run organizing and production game and Scioli, who had been instrumental in building the event into one of the strongest poker runs in the Northeast, was happy to add it to his 2017 event roster. In the interest of clarity and separation, Scioli renamed the event the Western New York Poker Run.
And then last month, Ray Nuchereno, a pivotal figure in the Western New York, high-performance powerboating community, died. More than a friend to Scioli and other go-fast powerboat enthusiasts in the area, the 59-year-old Nuchereno had been a driving force behind the success of the annual run on Lake Erie.
“This poker run wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Ray making it a little easier,” said Scioli. “He went out and got so many sponsorships for it every year.”
After talking with Nuchereno’s many friends at the reception following his funeral, Scioli came up with the idea to once again rename the event. Set for August 10-13, it will be called the Ray Nuchereno Memorial Poker Run.
“I had all the artwork for the posters done, I just had to change the name,” said Scioli, fresh from producing last weekend’s inaugural Mentor Poker Run in Ohio. “I talked with his girlfriend and brother about what I was thinking during the funeral and they got choked up. The fact is that Ray was the one who grew this poker run to be what it is—he was tireless when it came to knocking on doors and making deals for sponsorships. He was super well-known—he was the man in Buffalo. He was bigger than life. A lot of us looked up to him growing up. He always had the hot, cool boat.”
Scioli is shooting for a 100-boat fleet for the upcoming Buffalo-based happening. With the Erie (Pa.) and Mentor events, he’s already produced two poker runs this year. But this one, which will by followed by the Grand Island Poker Run in New York, will be the one closest to his heart and the hearts of everyone who loved Nuchereno.
“This run meant so much to Ray,” said Scioli. “And Ray meant so much to everyone around here.”
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.