EPT9 Berlin Day 1A: Choc-ices, albatross, tasser cafes - introducing the usherettes
There's an hour left to play on the opening day. Players begin to flag, partly owing to the after effects of a schnitzel-rich dinner, partly owing to the late hour.
By now the sights have grown familiar. Over on the far corner of the tournament room a side event is now in full swing, junior to the main event it runs alongside, but as important to those looking for a decent score.
There are also those inside the rail but not playing. They include the spectators on the wrong side of the ropes. Until they get caught these delinquents get as close to the action as possible, nearest a friend perhaps, having jumped the rope line like a pair of youths sneaking into the Glastonbury festival. Sooner or later a floor man will throw them out. But they've got a taste for it now and will try again in a matter of minutes.
The other group are an altogether different type; one that we'd previously assumed had died out when cinemas in Britain stopped selling choc-ices.
The tournament room in full flow
These are the tray usherettes who wander between tables, in cramped conditions, to flop cigarettes, chocolate and soft drinks to players. If they have it with them they deliver, otherwise make a note of a player's needs and return with it, all the while carrying a hulking great big tray. It's not an easy task, as one usherette demonstrated.
Carrying her tray, attached to a kind baby carrier strapped onto her back, one usherette was called into service by a man in need of a tasse café. First she needed to get near him through the gangway between a player on one table and a dealer on another. She hoisted aloft the tray so as to avoid rendering the dealer unconscious. Then, looking for a way through, found the way blocked. She seemed to mull the idea of resting the tray on the dealers head, before backing off and going the long way around. She didn't have any tasser cafes so went instead to fetch one.
It'll be a tricky job bringing it back, although the easiest route will like be in the wake of the two delinquents, back in the corner, on the wrong side of the rail.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter