For many who take the game of poker seriously, they can point to another player who has had a profound effect on their game.
Whether it’s emerging from obscurity to win the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, pulling off heart-stopping bluffs on High Stakes Poker, or crushing the nosebleed stakes of online poker, some of the best poker players in the world have helped to inspire generations of new players find their way in poker.
We’ve spoken with some of the biggest stars in the game today about who it their poker idols are.
Kara Scott is so much more than a poker player. In addition to boasting over $650,000 in career tournament earnings, Scott has gone on to be considered one of the most successful poker commentators of her era through her yearly sideline reporting of the World Series of Poker Main Event on ESPN as well as an acclaimed podcast host with her show The Heart of Poker.
Traveling the world as an 888poker ambassador affords Scott all kinds of opportunities to play. Last June she won the Ladies Event at the 888poker LIVE stop in Barcelona.
When you first started playing poker, who was the player you admired the most?
When I first started playing poker, one of the first things I watched was the movie Rounders. That scene with Johnny Chan and the way that Mike talks about him and his skill, the way the casino reacted to him walking in and sitting down to play, that stayed with me.
Watching the clips of his WSOP championships made him seem like a superstar to me.
What was it about that player that you liked or admired?
The fact that Chan had back to back Main Event bracelets gave him such a mystique. He’d done this incredible thing in our game. Something that’ll likely never, ever be done again. It made him seem larger than life in a way I’m guessing a lot of new players see Hellmuth for his bracelet record.
When did you first get to see them play (either on TV or live)?
I first saw him in the movie Rounders and then I went and watched what I could find of his WSOP wins.
Did you ever get to meet that player and what was that like?
I did actually get to meet Johnny Chan, less than a year after seeing him on screen for the first time. I was hosting a tiny cable poker show back then with my friend, poker pro Nick Wealthall.
Chan was coming to London on a press tour and by some miracle, they’d convinced him to do our show. He must have been expecting a lot more than our tiny setup! He was so gracious though, I remember that. I’d worked all week doing just a ton of research and writing up all my questions and me, overeager newbie, arrived with 15 pages of notes, just to hear the producers say they thought it would be better for Nick to interview him alone. Nick has always been both a great friend and a generous colleague and he insisted I get to be there for the interview and he made sure there was space for me to take part. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve never forgotten how cool Johnny was.
Although I’ve seen him at the poker table and I’ve interviewed him loads of times since then, I still have the Queen he signed for me after that interview, 15 years ago.
Can you tell me about something either on the felt or off of the felt that you learned from them?
Although we were a much smaller show that Johnny was expecting, he still gave us a great interview and spent loads of time with us on-air. He was big-time and we were small-time but you never would have guessed that from his demeanor.
How does it feel to know somebody out there looks at you the way you looked up to your favorite player?
It’s such a wild thought. When people ask me for an autograph or a photo, it’s always hugely gratifying that they like my work. I’m no Johnny Chan but I’m glad I have my spot in the poker world!