The Paddling Machine: Berlin-Style Ping Pong

A couple years back, Allan Hough went to Berlin and came back to San Francisco a changed man. He had a snappier wrist. A lager-filled belly. And he was inspired. Why don’t we play ping pong the way they do in Berlin? he pondered. It sounded silly – but this is a man who takes ping pong seriously.

On a recent afternoon, Hough is leaning against a pool table, arms crossed, staring into the corner of his cluttered, Christmas light-laden garage in San Francisco’s Mission district. In a chaos of surfboards and bike wheels and beer cozies and wooden chairs, two emerald slabs – the gigantic halves of a brand new ping pong table – are neatly propped up against the far wall. “I think we’ll use the new one tonight,” he says matter-of-factly.

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