Bass & Walleye Boats - January 2000


When to Hold'Em

Gambler 2100 is a Sure Thing

By John Tiger, Jr.

    The bright yellow rocket smokes across the unrippled surface of Lake Ouachita, its bow balanced perfectly at the angle of attack.  Gambler President Bob Ackerbloom wrings every ounce of horsepower possible from the giant Merc 250 Pro XB hanging almost 9 inches off the transom.  The Merc growls with a low, throaty roar as the winds pounds our Lexan windscreens with a 250-horsepower fist.  Ackerbloom strings the big Gambler 2100 out of almost a mile, hopping for a 90 mph reading on the Stalker radar gun.  Although not quite what we had hoped for, 86.7 mph appears on the readout.  With cooler temperatures and a more rippled water surface, who knows if we would've hit 90.  The ultra glass surface and sticky air held us back, as did the low hours on the brand-new Merc 250.

    The new 2100 is part of Gambler's intense focus for Y2K and beyond, as they strive to improve just about every facet of their business.

    "One of my stated goals is to make buying a Gambler like taking delivery of a fine European sportscar; everything should not only work, fit and perform properly, but the customer should be delighted by the experience," Ackerbloom says.  The 2100 tested displays that dedicated commitment to quality and innovation.

    Furthering their plans for the future, Gambler recently moved to a new plant close to Orlando, Florida.  With 45,000 square feet situated on an ideal testing lake, Ackerbloom has built in plenty of room for expansion.  The lake allows full pre-shipment testing of all Gamblers, so they are ready to run when they're delivered; the dealer just needs to do a quick pre-delivery check-over.


    Gambler's rigging department fitted our test 2100 with a new Mercury Pro 250 XB, a 3.0L ripper offered (thus far) only as an OEM engine pre-rigged on select performance boats.  The new outboard combines the best technology from the 300 Pro Max, tames it a bit, and mixes the smooth performance of the 225 EFI.  The result is an extremely powerful low and midrange powerband that keeps on pulling right up to the 6250 rpm redline.

    The combination works well; the 250 provided awesome midrange punch and near-90 mph top speeds from a 20-plus footer that's no flyweight race hull.  Rigged on a Detwiler hydraulic jackplate with 8 3/4 inches of built-in setback (the boat come standard with a 10-inch setback manual plate), the Gambler hit 86.7 mph with the 250 spinning its 27-inch Tempest wheel at 6150 rpm.

    Holeshot was great once we removed the plastic PVS vent plugs from the propeller; we averaged 7.02 seconds to reach 30 mph from a dead stop.  We later found that the engine's shipping bolt was left in the lowest hole on the stern brackets; removing this bolt dropped 0-30 times down to just over 6 seconds -- right in the hunt for most big rigs.

    The Gambler is a dream to drive. even at speeds more than 85 mph.  Getting used to its trim angle takes just a few passes, and the standard Teleflex SeaStar Pro hydraulic steering makes long stints behind the wheel tireless.  Likewise, cranking the craft through hard turns produces pleasant, predictable results when the trim was reined in a bit.

    Bumpy water is no problem.  The Gambler hull works through boat wakes and light wind chop with aplomb and the low windshield provide surprisingly good buffeting protection, due in large part to the excellent seating position.  Gauges, too, are within sight when the steering wheel was held straight.

    Fuel mileage would be considered average for a rig this size, especially considering with this much power.  The best cruising speed was 39 mph, where the Pro XB was drinking the 89-octane juice at 4.3 mpg rate.  At full tilt, mileage was excellent; the 250 burned fuel at 25 gph, which still gave the big rig almost 3 1/2 mpg.  With a 50-gallon tank, cruising range is still very generous with this outboard.


    Ackerbloom's goal of making his boats feel like fine sportscars is evident in the cockpit.  Driver and passenger seating are extremely plush, with supple vinyl buckets that provide great support in rough water.  The dash is recessed and features a full compliment of white-faced Faria instruments with gold bezels in an imitation burlwood dash panel.

The wood motif continues throughout the cockpit and to the switch panel and passenger's area as well.  Even the steering wheel carries the burlwood look.  Gambler offers a high-tech carbon fiber look to replace wood grain should you not care for it.

    The shifter is unique; Ackerbloom was not satisfied with typical OEM and even aftermarket units, so he fashioned his own.  It's custom built from stainless steel, recessed into a burlwood panel and works very smoothly; its design is in keeping with the fine sportscar look.  It features a standard neutral interlock and anti-start safety switch.

    A custom, adjustable foot throttle also comes standard.  The trim buttons are floor mounted, which can take some getting used to if you're accustomed to having the trim controls on the steering wheel or hand throttle.

    There's no getting used to the other cockpit features -- they come naturally.  The smoked plexiglass windscreens are raked back for decreased wind resistance, and work well to protect the driver and passenger.  Anchored sturdily in the deck, gold-anodized stainless rails encircle the windscreens for use exiting the seats.  The armrests features built-in drink holders, and there's plenty of legroom for both driver and passenger. 

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