Kara Scott is a force in poker. She plays, hosts, interviews, writes, and promotes the game. What makes her a force, though, is her insistence upon staying genuine and true to herself. She is not afraid to tweet about important issues or be brutally honest when need be, all while remaining open, warm, and easygoing.
It is hard for many people to find a balance in life between work and recreation, especially for someone like Scott, who travels extensively for work and has lived in various parts of the world in the past decade. She finds a way to choose her gigs wisely, perform various duties across the poker spectrum with the utmost professionalism, and make the most of the time she is home, wherever that may be.
Her 2016 has already been filled with a variety of travels and excitement, not the least of which was signing on as an 888poker ambassador and promoting the World Series of Poker. Her new partnership with 888 is setting the stage for new adventures throughout the rest of the year, and she couldn’t be more ready to take it on.
Poker Update talked to Scott about her life, finding that aforementioned balance, and more about her 888poker relationship.
Poker Update: You started out the 2016 year with some big events – Georgia for the WSOP Circuit press conference and then Los Angeles for the GPL. That seems like a lot of travel to most people but pretty reasonable compared to some of your business travels in the past. How were those events for you?
Kara Scott: I’ve definitely slowed down my travel a bit this year and I’m trying to be more choosy and just do trips that I really want to go on, particularly to places I’ve never been. The WSOP press conference in Tbilisi was an amazing chance for me to get to Georgia and my hosts treated me with SO much care. They really did go all out and I’m so grateful because I got to see so much of the city and learn a lot of the history in just 3 days. I was actually just looking at my photos from that trip the other day and thinking how much I’d like to get back to Tbilisi. What an incredible city.
LA is a whole other beast! I’ve been there quite a few times but getting back there always makes me happy. I got to spend a few days in Santa Barbara (where I used to live) and catch up with friends before the GPL/APA kicked off. Plus, when we’re preparing for the GPI stuff in Los Angeles, we stay in a rented house all together and I love that atmosphere. I generally spend a lot of time working remotely on my own, so having colleagues to throw around ideas with and chat to, that’s a real bonus for me.
Poker Update: Tell us a little about your role as GPL Commissioner and what that entails going forward.
Kara: I was there to just keep an eye on the proceedings and make sure the mechanics of the draw itself ran smoothly. I was more of a Master of Ceremonies but ‘Commissioner’ sounds way cooler, so you can just call me The Commish.
All jokes aside, it was very cool to be asked to step into that role and be part of such a ground breaking initiative. We don’t often get new stuff in poker, and like everyone, I’ve been VERY interested to see how the League goes.
I had a lot going on to prepare for the Poker Awards (which happened that same evening) so it ended up being a very full day for me. They made sure that I could put most of my focus on my script for the Awards. At the Draft, I was mostly a figure-head in a snazzy jacket making the announcements official. The livestream commentary team did the bulk of the work, definitely.
Going forward, I’ll just be watching the GPL like everyone else!
Poker Update: During that LA trip, you announced your new relationship with 888poker. You’ve attended one event so far. What kind of welcome did you receive there?
Kara: 888Live London was great and getting to meet many of the people on the team was awesome. I lived in the UK for a decade and am a Brit (although I don’t sound like one, I know). London is where I first learned how to play poker. It’s where my poker roots are! Going back is very much like going home for me, so being there was pretty special. I always bump into people who I used to play poker with 10 years ago or who watched the little cable TV show that I started out on. Chris Cornelius, who works so hard on the my888 forum community even had some cupcakes made with my picture on them – talk about being made to feel welcome! I’ve always liked the 888 ambassadors, so getting to see Dominik and Sofia for the first time as teammates, that was very cool too and I can’t wait to be at more events with all the rest of them.
Poker Update: How have you been doing since getting into a somewhat regular Sunday grind routine on 888?
Kara: Ha! My ‘regular Sunday grind’ definitely does NOT look the same as the 888 pros, I’m sure. For one thing, I’ve never been much of a night owl, so I tend to play a few hours in the late morning/early afternoon and then take a couple of hours off in the middle of the day before starting up again in the evening. I don’t play the big majors at night as the structures are so good and that means that if I was lucky enough to go deep, I wouldn’t finish until pretty late. I know that I don’t play very well, the later it gets, so I tend to try to be finished up around 21.30 or ten pm.
I’ve been playing the smaller tournaments, just getting my feet wet again and getting used to online poker. I’ve tried some of the interesting new formats as well, like the ‘show me’ tournaments where the winning hand gets shown to the table, no matter what street it finishes on. I’m still a recreational player, so there’s no ‘regular’ routine for me. I just get stuck into whatever looks fun at the time!
Happy Sunday everyone and goooood luck to all the people playing WSOP satellites on @888poker ✌🏼 I'll see some of you in Vegas!— Kara Scott (@KaraOTR) May 1, 2016
Poker Update: You tweet sometimes about the different online personalities of you and your husband. Can you tell us how you two manage your various responsibilities and work schedules in a way that works for both of you?
Kara: We’re very lucky to have such a great relationship and I think a lot of that is down to the fact that we’re both pretty unconventional, so we understand that in each other. Not surprisingly for two people who ended up in the poker industry, we both like having strange schedules without a lot of strict structure. Not everybody out there understands wanting something outside of the 9-5 life but we both do, so it works. I’ve had relationships in the past where my partner would keep assuming (despite my being very clear with them) that at some point I’d stop traveling all the time, and that I’d ‘settle down’ into a ‘normal life’ when I got older. Yeah, no thanks. It’s so great to not have that pressure anymore.
I’m happy being on the road a large % of the time and the flipside of that is that I get to spend lots of quality time with Giovanni when I’m at home. He loves being able to stay awake playing poker all night and then sleep until the afternoon is nearly gone. We both respect that the other feels happiest when they can live life according to their own schedule and that’s the important thing for us. Plus, we probably get more actual quality time together than more conventional couples do.
When I’m at home, I tend to wake up mid-morning and spend a good 6 hours writing, doing emails, working, running errands and doing all of those ‘life’ things that need to get done. Giovanni wakes up in the late afternoon and does his own errands, and then we’ll hang out and do fun stuff together. We might go and buy great wine, or visit the food market or just go for a walk around this great city. He makes us dinner most nights (he’s an amazing cook) and then maybe we go out for a drink or watch a movie together before he starts playing poker around 9pm. I head off to bed to work some more or read until I fall asleep. It’s kind of the perfect way to spend a day.
The main thing is probably that we just talk a lot to each other, and so when things need to be adjusted, we adjust them.
Poker Update: What travels are on the schedule for 888poker in the coming months?
Kara: In a few weeks, I’m off to Costa Brava in Spain for the 888Live event. I’ve never been there, so Gio and I are going to take a few extra days before the event to have a holiday in the sun. I can’t wait. It’s been a long winter and I need some sun already! After that I’ll be heading to Vegas on and off for the rest of the summer, to work at the WSOP and play some poker as well. I’ll be there for the WSOP 888 event and will probably play a couple other things too. From there, we’re still putting the finishing touches on my schedule so I think I’ll be back in the UK at some point as well as hitting some events in central Europe, which is my new neighbourhood!
Poker Update: What does your WSOP schedule look like?
Kara: It’s going to be pretty easy for me, overall. I plan to buy pieces in some of my friends so I have a sweat, as I’ll only be playing a couple of events myself. I’ve got a fair amount of work to do while I’m in Vegas, so playing poker has to come second sadly. I’ll show up near the end of June to start playing and be done in time to get to work for ESPN.
Poker Update: With so much travel for poker, are there places on your “wish list” that you’re anxious to go to for fun or vacation?
Kara: So many places! I have a friend who owns a place on the Isle of Kerrera and I want to go and be there for a while. Another friend of mine started working as a chef in a guest house on an island in Panama and THAT’S high on my list. Also, I haven’t been to Thailand in a very long time and I’d love to go back there. And Costa Rica. Plus, I’d really like to get back to Canada to spend some more time with my folks. And Italy of course, to spend more time with my in-laws. And England to see my friends… So many places.
Poker Update: You recently moved to Slovenia after moving to Italy before that. What is the secret to assimilating and feeling “at home” somewhere?
Kara: Oof, if you figure it out, let me know! I do my best but it’s hard not to feel alien a lot of the time, when you’re living in a country where you don’t speak the language and don’t know the culture. I’m trying to meet people and make friends here. I spend a lot of time going to the same bakery, the same vegetable market stalls, the same cafes. Eventually you find a routine and it begins to feel like you belong in a small way. Then it just builds naturally from there. No matter where I move, I always find that it takes about 2 years to start making real friends and as I’ve been in Slovenia just a year and already it feels like home, so I must be doing something right! I’m learning the language (very slowly) as I think it’s important to learn the culture and become part of it, rather than doing that stereotypical ex-pat thing of assuming that everyone will speak your English and should cater to you. I like the differences here and although I do sometimes miss things from Canada or the UK or Italy, or even the USA, I moved here to live in Slovenia so I’m glad it’s not a photocopy of anywhere else I’ve lived.
Poker Update: Finally, let’s take it back to 888poker. What is so special about 888 that players should consider when choosing an online poker site?
Kara: The schedule is great. Since moving outside of Italy and now that I’m playing online, I can finally see how much MORE there is to play. All of the different formats are easy to pick up and for someone like me who is just getting her head back into the online game, it’s such a good feeling that smaller tournaments are starting all the time. I’m not great at having to wait for tournaments to begin!
Plus, with the WSOP coming up, 888 is the official sponsor and you can qualify online for the Main Event and the 888 Side Event as well. Players can start with micro step qualifiers for tiny amounts, so if you want to have that great story of making the Final Table of the most exciting tournament in poker, for only a few pennies, this is where to do it.
You can also qualify online for the 888Live events which are a ridiculous amount of fun. If you’ve seen the photos or videos of past events, you know that players are loving them so it’s a nice way to get a ‘poker holiday’. The Costa Brava satellites are running now, for instance. And the Super XL Series (888’s biggest online tournament series) is starting soon as well, so that’s another great reason to get online.
Gio can hear me doing poker smack talk at my laptop all the way from his office and I CAN HEAR HIM LAUGHING.— Kara Scott (@KaraOTR) March 20, 2016
Gio: "What was that you said?"— Kara Scott (@KaraOTR) March 20, 2016
Me: *mumbles* "in your face"
Gio: "Whats that again?"
Me: "I SAID IN YOUR FACE"