The World Cup in Mexico had its wave. Then in South Africa there were the vuvuzelas. They were grand annoyances to a great many of the audience, but they were also distinctive and quintessential — transportive motifs that took you straight to a specific time and place.
EPT Prague had one of these. Eeek. Anyone who has ever set foot in the tournament room will know it. Eeek. With about 75 tables surrounded by nine chairs each — eeek — and a four scratchy legs — eeek — on a laminated, tiled floor — eeek — the tournament room used to resound — eeek — with a terrible screeching sound — eeek — all day long — eeek, eeek, eeek, eeek, eeek.
A SQUEAKY WHEEL
“It’s always been my biggest complaint here in Prague is the chairs causing psychic damage,” Steve O’Dwyer told the Poker in the Ears podcast this week. “It’s not a squeak. It’s the loudest, most painful screech you could possibly imagine, with those bare metal bottoms of the chairs ripping into the tile floor every time one of the 500 people in the room slightly shifts their weight a little bit.”
As he also explains in the recent podcast, O’Dwyer tends to have a list of comfort requirements for his hotel and tournament experience that, by his own admission, tend to be more demanding than most. (“It’s stressful enough playing these tournaments,” he states in defence.)
But on this particular point, O’Dwyer will find a sympathetic ear among the vast majority of players who have been coming to Prague through the years. Once you notice it, you can’t not hear it. And it goes on and on and on, like fingers down a chalkboard, until the day is done.
“It’s been a crusade of mine since 2011…to get this fixed,” O’Dwyer said. “I looked up carpet retailers, and rental places. I looked at buying things to put over the bottoms of the chairs and just going down there at 3am when all the tournaments were finished for the day and turning all the chairs upside down to fix them.
“I was holding out hope that someday someone would hear my pleas and fix them themselves.”
A SOLUTION AT LAST!
The huge news from this week is that, finally, those pleas have been heard. Steve O’Dwyer, the self-styled squeaky wheel, finally got some oil.
“We said to the hotel that they had to sort it out,” said Tournament Director Toby Stone, working with Margarita Kuzmina from the EPT live events team. “We said you’ve either got to put down carpet or put something on the chairs. And eventually they did it.”
The solution? Well, it’s pretty simple really. Every chair leg now has a tiny plastic sock, like a ferule on a walking stick, with a small pad of carpet adhered to the bottom.
The chairs still ache beneath the weight of the poker players, and they still slide and grind across the floor. But the sound is absorbed and dulled by this tiny muffler — with only the very occasional screech from a leg that has lost its sock.
Suddenly everyone is happy.
“Congratulations,” someone said to Stone, admiring the simple yet effective solution. “It only took you 15 years.”
“Ah! Ah…” Stone countered. “I’ve only been in charge since 2018 or 2019.” He floundered, putting the blame on to his predecessors as EPT tournament director. “And then there was the pandemic,” he added.
HALL OF FAME RECOGNITION
Stone was keen to give at least equal credit to Kuzmina, who played a big part in bringing the ferules to Prague.
“She should go into the Poker Hall of Fame,” said Jan Kores, EPT Media Co-ordinator.
Whether she receives the recognition she deserves remains to be seen. But for the time being, the EPT Prague tournament room is a lot quieter than it has been before, with less psychic damage being inflicted on everyone who sets foot there.
But you know what? I kind of miss it. But I’ll keep this opinion to myself.
(With thanks to Danny Maxwell for the photos. One day you’re in Brazil photographing Formula 1. The next you’re putting together a gallery of chair legs.)Back to Top