The clock stops, the tournament director announces there will be four more hands to play and things gradually come to a close. But just as you think your day of hard graft has come to an end you still have one thing left to do, and while the instructions were given to you, you can’t actually remember what they were.
“It’s isn’t that difficult,” said a member of the floor staff. “But I don’t think we have a lot of players who get it wrong.”
It’s true. For most, packing up chips into a plastic bag is a routine part of the job, the enjoyable process that you go to when you’ve made it to the end of the day. Yet for others it’s a task of monumental complication and panic. Just what exactly do you need to do again?
At the close of play tournament staff delivers clear plastic bags to each table along with ball point pens. Each player is then required to write their name, nationality, chip count and player ID number; taken from the card they keep with them, and put their chips inside. Crucially they’re not supposed to put this ID card in the bag. Alas, that last but doesn’t always get through.
Everyone pay attention
Why the confusion? Firstly, as shown on the nationality kaleidoscope, there are a multitude of languages spoken at an EPT, not all of them English. It’s not uncommon for a player to understand nothing that’s said to them through the day.
Also, the instructions come at a time of day when players are not really focusing on the instructions from the floor staff, which blend in with the sound of a thousand riffles, into white noise. Suddenly you’ve got a pen in your hand and you’re asking the dealer for help.
“I think there’s a lot of hassle at the end of the day,” said one floor person. “There are a lot of things going on and the players just want to get out, and they don’t pay attention to what’s been said.”
In the general scheme of things it’s not much of a crisis, except when it comes to finding new players ID cards to use the next day. These are nicely laminated cards which correspond to a players’ starting table and seat – the ID number 1106 would be table 11, seat 6. A player walking away with theirs means a card lost forever, and an extra job before play starts scribbling a number onto a makeshift card, which doesn’t look as nice.
Of course there are other causes for confusion, with players forgetting to include their name or, writing it in such a fashion that it’s indecipherable. Then there are those with similar names, such as Dan Smith and Dan Smyth, and the wag who likes to claim North Korean nationality.
Regardless of all this the information is recorded eventually in the early hours of the morning, with official chip counts and seat draws then released for players to check through online.
A simple plan in theory, but one that’s never as simple as it sounds in practice.