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In 802.11 WLANs, adapting the contention parameters to network conditions results in substantial performance improvements. Even though the ability to change these parameters has been available in standard devices for years, so far no adaptive mechanism using this functionality has been validated in a realistic deployment. In this paper we report our experiences with implementing and evaluating two adaptive algorithms based on control theory, one centralized and one distributed, in a large-scale testbed consisting of 18 commercial off-the-shelf devices. We conduct extensive measurements, considering different network conditions in terms of number of active nodes, link qualities, and data traffic. We show that both algorithms significantly outperform the standard configuration in terms of total throughput. We also identify the limitations inherent in distributed schemes, and demonstrate that the centralized approach substantially improves performance under a large variety of scenarios, which confirms its suitability for real deployments.