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Q&A with Kara Scott, host of 888poker News23 February 2017
Kara Scott is one of our favorite poker personalities here at Casino City, so we were thrilled to hear that she's hosting a new show, 888poker News. The new show will air once a month online and, as you might have guessed from the title, is sponsored by 888 Poker, where Scott is a brand ambassador. The show features news updates on 888poker's online and live events.
Kara is also hosting the American Poker Awards, tonight, 23 February at 8 p.m. We were able to grab a few minutes with her over email to discuss the new show, her ambassadorship with 888poker and dealing with jerks on the internet.
CASINO CITY: You're in L.A. now for Thursday's American Poker Awards. Without giving away anything, what are you most looking forward to on Thursday? What did you do to prepare?
KARA SCOTT: I'm so glad that I got to be here for the first APA and then every year since. I feel quite lucky to be part of this, as I love the idea of recognizing those people who are working so hard in our industry! As is usual with these sorts of things, so much has to be decided right at the last minute, so we're all working pretty hard to get everything done. The folks at GPI (Global Poker Index) are doing the awards and the conference both, so they're stuck in front of their laptops 24/7 at the moment to bring it all together. My main job before the awards is to write the script for the evening, research all the people and figure out how to introduce the awards in a way that shows why it’s important that we do this. I spend the two to three days before the awards ceremony doing that. It's exhilarating to be up on stage leading the event, but the bit I'm always looking forward to the most is having a glass of wine once it's all over, and toasting a job (hopefully) well done (and then toasting the winners)!
Tell us more about your new show. Whose idea was it? When did you start working on it? How much of a role do you have in its development?
You know, I'm really surprised by how much attention the 888poker update show has gotten! The January episode was just our pilot and we're still trying to feel out what kind of space we want it to take up – is it primarily for 888poker players or is it more for the wider industry? It's still in development and may change here and there. It was a fairly collaborative effort with the 888poker content people. We spent time last year brainstorming ideas for regular content, and this was one of the things we came up with. I have another video project that I've been working on, which will hopefully come out in a couple of months, and I'm pretty excited about that.
It feels good to be doing this sort of content on a regular basis. I love — no, I adore — my role on TV but this feels more immediate and like a more regular dialogue with poker people. One of the things I appreciate about working with the 888 folks is that they listen and want to collaborate. I've always gotten the sense from them that they respect their ambassadors' opinions and want to use the talent there, rather than just putting our faces on things. It makes it a much more exciting role and feels like there's a lot more room for growth. I've not done much online content of this sort, so I'm stretching and learning new skills, and I like the feeling.
You've been an 888poker brand ambassador for almost one year. What's your understanding of the "ambassador" role, and has it changed over the course of the year?
I think the role is constantly changing and that's a good thing, as the industry is also always in flux. There's a strong PR role involved, but it's also now like a consultancy as well, and that's good.
In addition to your TV hosting duties, you are also an accomplished player. How have you been running on the felt lately?
I've been playing the 888Live and 888Live Festival events and have really been enjoying that. My record in them is pretty good — although we're talking a very small sample size — and the smaller buy-in suits me. I'm a tournament player so I'm staying away from the cash tables, and that's probably for the best, where my bankroll is concerned! If I ever do decide to dip my feet into cash games properly, I think I'd need to beg Sofia Lovgren, a fellow 888 ambassador and a killer cash player, to give me some coaching first.
You've also been living in Slovenia for more than a year now. How are you settling in?
I really do love Slovenia. It's been a revelation really, living there. The quality of life is so high. It's always a good feeling to go home. It's actually my favorite country to live in so far! I really just travel to play poker though, so my home life and work life are pretty separate things and that feels like a healthy balance for me.
You travel quite a lot for work. What upcoming adventures are you most looking forward to?
I'll be in Barcelona in May for the 888live Festival and I can't wait for that. I've not been there in years, and it's one of those places that I'm pretty sure will be easy to convince my husband to join me! I'll be in Malta as well for a friend's wedding. I'm performing the ceremony – yikes!).And, of course, I'll be in Vegas again this summer for the WSOP.
Do you have poker or career goals you're working toward right now?
You know, I was never one to have goals. I decided early on that setting specific goals was just letting the Universe know where exactly it could best mess with you. I'm not an optimist, as you might be able to tell. This year, I decided to change that for the first time in maybe 20 years. My goal for this year was to be more productive outside of my TV work and to produce non-TV content that I really like and feel proud of. It's a pretty vague goal, but hey, I'm new to this goal-setting thing. So far, so good.
What are some of the most important or noticeable changes you think the poker industry is going through right now? What changes do you want it to make or think it will need to make?
It's hard to pin these things down. Like so many people, I really hope all of the various countries sort out their approach to online poker and give the game back to a lot of the players who've lost it, in a way that won't kill the liquidity.
Let's have the obligatory Women in Poker conversation (hopefully not the same version of it you keep having with well-meaning dudes). Do you think the state of this debate is improving at all? What advice would you give to someone like me, a woman who is interested but new to the scene? What do you think the industry end of things is doing right or wrong to make poker more appealing to women?
Ha! I love the way you prefaced this. Yeah, it can be frustrating when that's the only thing journalists every want me to speak about. Then people start saying, “Oh, Kara only ever complains about sexism instead of talking about poker,” when most of the women I know would LOVE to just be asked poker questions. But we're not there yet, and so we do need to keep having these conversations.
I think the debate is weirdly both improving and getting more vicious. It's more polarized. There's a trend toward ugly backlash whenever women in traditionally male-dominated fields talk about their experiences on social media, and I think we have seen elements of that in poker too. Its purpose seems to be to frighten people away from talking about their experiences, and that's not good.
For new women coming in, I'd suggest following some of the fantastic, funny, smart and sharp women in the community on Twitter and to build relationships with the other women you meet and see in the game. We're a varied bunch, but like all poker players, we tend to share some common characteristics and it can be good to spend time with those who've already been having this conversation for a long time. I went to my first "Women in Poker Hall of Fame" luncheon last year during the WSOP and I can't believe I hadn't been before. Two women I like and admire, Jan Fisher and Linda Johnson, are heavily involved there and being able to hear stories of the women who've been playing poker for decades was helpful and eye-opening. There's a sense of continuity. They broke a lot of ground.
I'd like to see our industry continue to treat women poker players like . . . well, like poker players. We're not monolithic, in the same way that poker players generally aren't. When people talk about "women in poker," the initial picture that pops into many heads is a young, traditionally attractive woman. There is a LOT of variety in the women who play this game, though — in age, background and any other category that applies to people generally. Seeing that diversity is helpful and widens the conversation.
You're also pretty vocal about politics generally on Twitter, which puts you right at the often-unpleasant intersection of Politics Twitter and Being a Woman on the Internet. Have you generally had issues with harassment or the like over your political postings? If so, how do you deal with it?
I've definitely gotten a thick skin by being on Twitter and while I'm glad for that, it was a nasty way to learn that lesson and shouldn't be the price of admission for so many. Some guy tried to suggest I get a nose job a couple of weeks ago, and at first it made me laugh and roll my eyes and then it just made me sad because for a lot of folks, THIS is how they think regular interactions should happen. It can really make you rethink your faith in humanity, when you're exposed to people doing and saying ugly things just because they need to get a reaction. Who knows, maybe it makes them feel powerful? How sad is that?
I do get some nastiness, but it tends to come in waves and it hasn't been bad in a while. I'm pretty quick to mute people if I don't like their approach. My thought is that I wouldn't stand in the street and let a complete stranger argue at me while I'm trying to go about my day, so why would I allow that online? Nonsense. I speak to lots of people who have different politics than me, but that doesn't mean I feel obligated to entertain every single person who has an opinion. We're not automatically entitled to people's time and attention. That's a lesson a lot of people need to re-learn.
I think we're all affected by what is happening globally, poker players or not.
You can watch the first episode of Kara's new show on YouTube:
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