EPT Prague: Players can be winners, backroom staff can be champions
Eight one hour levels to be played today, with six already completed. 24 players started, each paying the €5,000 buy-in (with registration still open for day 1b), coming from around Europe and beyond and followed closely by the media pack, a tour bus of reporters from the online, print and television worlds following events as they happen. 128 players remain.
The growth in popularity of the EPT has been matched in the growth in media presence. So great is this that at the Monte Carlo grand final earlier this year the press area filled the same space used for the tournament the year before. Organising all that takes a lot of time, trouble and talent, and PokerStars and the EPT is lucky enough to have Mad Harper in charge, who this month was crowned Casino Staff Person of the Year at a lavish awards ceremony in Paris.
It’s a well deserved recognition for one of the EPTs most familiar and welcomed faces. There were no Paltrow tears but in true Hollywood fashion the award came as a bit of a shock...
Mad Harper (far right) with fellow winners Trina Korpela (accepting for Alex Kravchenko), Annette Obrestad, Team PokerStars Pro Katja Thater, Jessie May, Soren Kongsgaard and Thomas Kremser
“For some reason someone gave me the impression that I hadn’t won” said Mad. “So by the time the ceremony began I was totally relaxed and didn’t spend one minute worrying. When they said my name I didn’t hear it – someone had to tell me I’d won.
“I was actually ecstatic. Winning the award was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’ve never won anything, not even a sit and go on PokerStars!
“I really want to thank Conrad Brunner and Jon Duthie. Conrad got me working for PokerStars handing out baseball caps to losers at the very first EPT. It made me very unpopular with the players who would start saying ‘No, I’m fine, really I’m okay!’ as I stood like the angel of death near their table.
“I’d also like to thank John Duthie. John really IS the EPT and without him I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”
News of the award didn’t surprise anyone who has got to know her over the last three years.
“Mad is the kind of person who is always there when you need her. If she’s super-stressed she’ll say ‘I’ll be with you in a sec’ and actually mean it. Some people use that as an excuse to forget about. Not Mad.” This from BA Kildalan, editor of Norsk Poker Magazine. “And she’s down to earth despite her good looks” he added.
Sentiments echoed by everyone in the media room.
“There have been a lot of high points,” said Mad. “But the best thing is over the years is that the media who attend each event have come to know each other and there’s a fantastic atmosphere in the media room. It’s the best bit of the job and I agree with people who say it’s like a family – we’re all on tour.”