Travel Guide: Prague, Czech Republic
Two stops are in the books for the European Poker Tour Season 9 - Barcelona and Sanremo - and now the European Poker Tour is travelling to its third destination: Prague. The city, which is the capital of the Czech Republic, has graced the EPT schedule for the past six seasons, and it has proven one of the more popular stops thanks in no small part to its proximity to the holidays. This year, the full EPT Prague festival will run from December 5-15, with the cornerstone €5,300 Main Event taking place 9-15 December.
Last year, Germany's Martin Finger overcame a field of 772 entrants - the largest in EPT Prague history - to capture a €720,000 first-place prize. What's more, he did so by defeating a final table represented by seven different countries; Germany, Netherlands, United States, Ukraine, Spain, Denmark and France. By doing so, Finger joined the likes of Roberto Romanello (Season 7), Jan Skampa (Season 6), Salvatore Bonavena (Season 5) and Arnaud Mattern (Season 4) as winners of the event.
Hilton Prague Hotel
Prague, Czech Republic 186 00
Tel: 0034 93 352 1010
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Population: 1.2 million
Currency: The Czech koruna CZK (1 USD = 19.4977 CZK, as of 26 November)
Time Zone: Central European Time (+6 hours from Eastern Standard Time)
Weather: Cold season lasts from November 15 to March 5; average daily high temperature below 42°F / 5.5°C (Bring a coat!)
Visa: Citizens of the European Union do not need a visa to visit the Czech Republic. Other should consult a travel agent for details.
Getting to Prague couldn't be easier as just about every European capital offers direct flights to Prague Ruzyne Airport. Furthermore, those coming from across the Atlantic can even find a few non-stop flights from North America. Once there, we recommend you hail a taxi, which will take you the 20-kilometre (12-mile) journey from the airport to the city center in about 20-25 minutes, and it should cost right around 550CZK (€22). The EPT Concierge also provides an exclusive Airport Transfer Service, so be sure to check out the website for details.
Where to stay
EPT Hotels is your best option for finding an affordable place to stay, beginning with the Hilton Prague, which is where the EPT Prague tournament will actually be taking place. As any poker player can tell you, staying at the venue is extremely convenient as it allows you to interact with other players, take advantage of the full tournament schedule and get the maximum hours of sleep each day. With 24-hour room service, Wi-Fi access in all rooms (price €13 per day),and free access to a swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam bath and fitness area, we can't think of a better place to stay while in Prague.
With that said, if you're unable to book at the Hilton, there are still plenty of other great options nearby. For one, the Hotel Embassy Prague is just 400 meters from the tournament venue, offers free Internet access and room service for most of the day.
Likewise, Hotel Opera, which is a five-minute walk from the venue, also has free Internet and offers room service most of the day. Additionally, they have a fitness center, sauna and jacuzzi. Other nearby options include Hotel Mucha, Jurys Inn Prague Hotel, Hilton Prague Old Town, Penzion Davids and Aparthotel Davids Biskupský Dvůr.
Out and about
The Czech Republic is a land-locked country, which means you won't find any beaches to keep you busy (it'd be too cold anyway). However, Prague is known as the political, cultural and economical center of the country, which means there's plenty to do. You'll have the opportunity to take in 600 years of architecture, which includes a castle, cathedral, the old royal palace and gardens, museums, galleries and, of course, the city's famed Yuletide markets, where you can find mulled wine stalls complete with gingerbread offerings.
One sight you must see on your visit is the Charles Bridge, Prague's signature landmark. The 600-year-old stone bridge that connects Old Town to the Lesser Town, offers great views of Prague Castle and the Vltava River, and it is lined with baroque statues of 30 religious figures. The bridge, constructed in 1357 under King Charles IV, is 621 meters long, 10 meters wide and lined with vendors and kiosks during the day.
Another popular attraction is the Old Town Square, which dates back to the 12th century and is lined by Gothic and baroque architecture. It's there that you will find the Old Town Hall, as well as the Astronomical Clock within and the twin-spire Tyne Church. You definitely don't want to miss what National Geographic has called "One of the most dazzling public spaces in Europe, and the city's commercial center for the past millennium."
Finally, the Prague Castle is a must-see sight in the city. As the EPT Concierge explains:
"Prague Castle is the largest medieval castle complex in Europe and well worth visiting. Set on a hill on the other side of the Vltava River from the Old Town, it provides amazing views over the whole city. This is quite a steep hill, but you can stop for hot wine on your way up (and/or on your way down.) The Changing of the Guard at the front gates takes place every hour. At noon the ceremony includes a fanfare."
Shooting at the stars
Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention one exciting opportunity offered by the EPT Concierge - laser tag with Team PokerStars Pro. That's right, EPT Concierge has teamed up with Laser Quest Prague to offer players a unique Laser Quest experience to play against Team PokerStars Pro and win fantastic prizes. This is an activity not to be missed! The details are as follows:
Date: 12th December
Transport will be provided to and from the venue with food and beverages available throughout the activity. There will be a trophy and a prize for the winning team, and every player will receive a special gift, too! Guests are welcome to attend, but space is limited. Visit the EPT Concierge website to either book your laser tag experience today or learn more about what there is to do in Prague.
The Hilton Prague features a Casino Atrium, which has been in operation since 1998 and offers "services of the highest calibre." Open daily from 2 pm to 6 am, the casino, which allows players to use both Euros and the Czech Koruna, features free drinks, a buffet and games including American roulette, poker, black jack, pontoon and punto banco. In addition, they house a bevy of slot machines and a poker room offering great cash-game action.
Poker players are notorious for taking full advantage of the nightlife, and to say Prague has a lot to offer would be an understatement. For example, the Aloha Bar & Club, which is five minutes from the Old Town Square by foot (about a 15-minute taxi ride from the Hilton), is a Hawaiian-themed bar that serves great cocktails and features an eclectic mix of tourists, expats and Czechs.
Another popular spot is Coco Café Disco Bar, which is located in Old Town. By day, the venue is a restaurant and café, but by night (starting at 8 p.m.), it transforms into one of the city's most popular bar-lounges that features a dance floor, DJ and an 18-meter long bar. It's also known for attracting celebrities such as "producers, singers, actors, sportsmen and other kinds of interesting people." Better add poker players to that list.
If you want to stay a little closer to the venue, then the Cloud 9 Sky Bar & Lounge is for you. Located on the top floor of the Hilton, the bar offers a view of Prague second to none as well as a variety of cocktails and bar food.
Other clubs to visit, all of which can be viewed on the EPT Concierge website, include Bombay Bar & Club, Buddha-Bar Hotel Prague, Chapeau Rouge, Charley's Bar, James Dean, Karlovy Lázně, M1 Lounge Bar & Club and Misch Masch.
Hopefully this Travel Guide has given you some good ideas as to what you can do while in Prague; however, this is just a sample of what the historic city had to offer. For more on restaurants, tourism, spas, etc. be sure to check out the EPT Concierge website. Also, be sure to visit the PokerStars Blog from October 5-15 for breaking articles, chip counts, seat draws, prize payouts and gallery photos all as it happens at EPT Prague.