A CardsChat Interview with Kara Scott by Jennifer Newell
Kara Scott is one of my favorite people, so I’m presenting my bias up front. She is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met, and her kindness and sense of humor are greater in person that the public can see on television or on her social media accounts.
When we met up to chat for CardsChat, she was spending time at the Rio in Las Vegas with her mother prior to a work assignment. We’ll call her mother Ellen for privacy reasons, and she offered to give me the private scoop on Kara’s deep, dark secrets in a future interview. That may have been a bluff, but I will call her on it down the road. For now, Ellen enjoyed a snack while Kara graciously answered questions from the CardsChat forum members and a few from me.
Jen: Will you marry me? Kara:
You, Jennifer? I love you, but I don’t think it’s legal in Nevada
Jen: I’d marry you, too, but I was asking for a forum member. Kara:
I think you and I would get along great, but I have to say no to the unknown person. I’ll remain unmarried.
Jen: At what moment did you know that you wanted to move on from those initial SNGs on Poker Night Live to what you play now? What prompted that change? Kara:
I think the more I learned about poker, the more interesting it became. Having started with the sit-n-gos and understanding the strategy there, I got the itch to want to play a multi-table tournament. And then I started playing MTTs online, and at that point, there’s the next step to playing live. I had really good friends like my teacher - the guy I worked with on Poker Night Live, Nick Wealthall - who was always encouraging me to buy in to live tournaments. He’d come with me or be on the other end of the phone when I had bad beats. I’d cry because I was still very new at it, but I had a lot of encouragement. It seemed like a natural progression, and it was exciting.
Jen: Did Nick really turn you into a better poker player, and how? Kara:
Yes. He really turned me into a poker player, actually. He started with teaching me the very basics of Texas
Hold’em with hand rankings and betting and such, and he turned me into a poker player. A lot of his support was with the mental game as well. Don’t be upset when you get sucked out on because it means you went in ahead. If you do that enough times, getting in with the best hand, you’re going to win, so it’s not a bad thing. Don’t have that negative viewpoint going into things. Realize you can win something. Having his support and those types of tips really meant a lot to me, especially the first year I went deep in the [WSOP] Main Event. He was on the rail the whole time, for five whole days, just watching like an expectant father, wringing his hands when I was all-in and celebrating with me when the bubble burst. Having him and his coaching and support 100 percent made me a better poker player.
Jen: In your first big tournament, were you staked or was it your own money? Kara:
It depends on what you mean by big. At the time, £200 or £300 tournaments in England were big for me, and that was my money. I felt it. It came out of my money, and I felt it. The first bigger events I played were staked by the company I was working for. It was more of a PR thing, and no one expected me to do much with it, but thankfully I did.
Jen: Do you prefer playing or hosting? Kara:
I prefer doing both. I think they dovetail very nicely. If I wasn’t playing poker, I wouldn’t have what it takes to ask the right questions of players or to be a good host. I wouldn’t understand what’s happening or the feeling of busting out of a tournament and therefore be able to do a good interview with that. Being a player informs my work as a host. But I also think that hosting is my job. That’s what I do. I’m not a professional poker player, so I love my job, and they work together very nicely.
Jen: What was the best or worst interview you conducted as a TV host? Kara:
Wow. There were some really difficult ones when I worked in Europe. A lot of players didn’t speak very good English, and we didn’t know that going into it. We were filming live, and they’d bring me someone to interview, and I’d see the blank panic on their faces when I realized that they didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak whatever language they spoke. I had no idea what to do in those situations, and everyone was watching. I would just talk a little bit, smile, and then the camera would cut off, and the poor players would stand there not having any idea what just happened. Those were some of the worst.
Jen: Is there one that stands out as the best or your favorite? Kara:
Nothing stands out a lot because I’ve been able to interview some really incredible poker players in lots of different situations. I really enjoyed interviewing people for High Stakes Poker; that was a lot of fun to get really deep into hands with them, asking them why they made certain decisions on certain streets. Being able to do that was great. I interviewed Phil Ivey for that show, and it was a lot of fun. He was actually a great interview, very eloquent, and he talked about the hands in a way that was more than what I expected. He thinks about poker at a much higher level than the rest of us, so I was pleasantly surprised that he pitched it exactly where it was supposed to go. I liked that one.
Jen: What was the single most important poker lesson you ever learned? Kara:
Don’t be afraid to lose. That’s a big lesson that Nick taught me. You don’t put yourself in a position to win if you’re afraid to lose. Even if you’re a 70/30 favorite in a hand, you’re going to lose 30 percent of the time, but if you’re afraid of that, you won’t push edges that are even smaller. So, not being afraid to lose all of my chips and leave a tournament - and not feeling bad about it - was really key for me.
Jen: What’s your guilty pleasure? Kara:
Scotch. Really, really good scotch.
Jen: Do you have a favorite scotch? Kara:
I do really like Talisker 18. I’d say Laphroaig is my favorite overall.
Jen: Favorite city in the world? Kara:
Jen: Favorite casino? Kara:
Casino di Venezia
Jen: Favorite poker player? Kara:
I don’t like playing favorites. Can’t do it!
Jen: Is there a poker player you’d not want to play against? Kara:
It’s either Patrik Antonius or Phil Ivey because they are massively intimidating at the poker table. They really are. They’re not having fun; they’re there killing poker.
Jen: Favorite personal poker moment that you were involved in? Kara:
Playing the Main Event the first year. When the bubble burst and I was in the money, I nearly cried. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe I had been able to play poker for three and a half days on the biggest stage in the world and made money. It was a turning point for me in poker when I thought, wow, I can do this!