As the famous song goes, it’s Chriiisssstttmaaaass, and that means one thing: PokerStars is doing its thing in the Czech Republic with EPT Prague.
I touched down in the Czech capital last night and, compared to gray old England, there was definitely a more festive chill in the air. Fortunately for me, I didn’t need to endure the cold for too long as I was whisked away to Hilton Hotel.
The twinkling foyer only added to the sense of festive cheer that, somewhat reluctantly, my Scrooge-like body was now imbibing. Poker events in the run up to Christmas are always fun, and EPT Prague is the place to be if you’re a poker player within earshot of Europe.
EPT Prague is an enduring force
Yes, the facilities at Hilton Hotel are fantastic. Yes, PokerStars’ crew always ensures the highest standards for players, but there’s more to this event than logistics. EPT Prague is an enduring force. It’s been a regular stop on the tour since 2007 and, almost every year without fail, it gets bigger.
Why? Everyone’s answer will be different. My first impression is that EPT Prague has something for everyone. The schedule of 60+ tournaments starts with €550 Eureka events and ends with €50,000 Super High Rollers.
Beyond that, there’s a relaxed atmosphere. Even the most stoic of circuit pros seem relaxed. Maybe it’s the Christmas decorations lightening the mood, maybe it’s the fact prizepools have swelled to record levels, or, maybe, it’s a combination of everything.
PokerStars’ team of Ambassadors are better placed than me to put their fingers on the allure of EPT Prague. Fintan Hand, aka EasyWithAces, said the event feels like a Christmas party for poker players.
“I think it’s due to how close it is to Christmas. I think the Hilton is one of the nicest venues we have on the tour, so with everyone flying in for a catch up before heading home for the holidays is what makes it so popular,” Hand told CardsChat.
That’s a sentiment I agree with. The fact my interview with Hand was interspersed with the hotel’s audio-visual team testing out a sound system ahead of the customary EPT party was testament to the jovial atmosphere.
Ben Spragg, aka Spraggy, shared a similar sentiment. Although Barcelona is his ultimate EPT stop, Prague is running a very close second.
“I love Barcelona, because of the sun. But I do love Prague at this time of year, because of the Christmas markets and there’s usually snow on the ground. It’s nice because a lot of poker friends come here for an end of year get together,” Spraggy said to CardsChat.
PokerStars finishing 2023 as it started it
Someone else who was enjoying the festivities, not least because he was celebrating his birthday in Prague, was Parker Talbot. The Canadian has been coming to EPT Prague for a decade, so it’s always fun for him to return.
“It’s a great stop. I have a lot of history here, and it’s good poker. I’ve had all of my EPT success here. Plus, I like the snow, I like Christmas markets, and there are a lot of cheap bars here, so it’s a great place,” Parker told us.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of EPT Prague is that PokerStars hasn’t dialed it in. Despite the fact we’re a couple of weeks away from Christmas, there’s as much effort gone into this event as there was back in January when I joined PokerStars in the Bahamas.
That’s why it’s been another bumper year for the EPT. Despite old rivals finding some vigor and upstarts trying to steal the crown, the EPT remains the go-to tour for Europe’s finest.
But it’s not just the game’s elite who enjoy the tour. It’s the fact anyone can ante up that ensures the tour continues to break records. That, for PokerStars and, more importantly, poker players, is something worth celebrating this holiday season.