Making the cover of this week’s #WomenInPoker feature is Kat De Sol – a free-spirited globetrotter and a well-known figure in the domestic circuit. You may have bumped into Kat during live tournaments Goa – she is a regular at the poker rooms – but few know that she is a former forex trader from Sweden.
Kat began her poker journey while running a startup in Los Angeles and even worked in her hometown in Sweden before moving to India for a real estate project because of a recession in Europe. Like many, she was introduced to poker by a family friend and has played a lot on Zynga Poker.
If Kat has been good with numbers, she has never shied away from taking on new adventures. While in Delhi, a job opportunity saw Kat moving bag and baggage to Goa, India’s hub for poker. The rest, as they say, is history. Adept at cash games as much as tournaments, today, Kat pursues the game semi-professionally and has even played in the poker capital of the world, Las Vegas.
We sat down with Kat for a quick chat, and here are the excerpts from our conversation.
Tell us about your professional background?
Right out of college, I did two startups in Los Angeles, one of which was a small setup for a courier delivery service in downtown LA. Later, I applied for a job back in Sweden, where I landed a job in the finance district trading in foreign exchange and precious metals. I had a contract with a brokerage firm called Nord Markets for a year, and then I decided to move back to India following the economic recession that hit EU countries. So, it was kind of a difficult time to be working on commission. After I moved to India, I got a job with a real estate development firm owned by a friend. It was a completely new field of work because I had no prior experience, but I hit the ground running and picked up a project at the Park Hotel in Goa.
When and how were you introduced to poker?
Every Sunday, we used to host a family barbecue at our house, and after our meals, we would just play for fun amongst the family. My best friend’s younger brother taught me poker. I didn’t know the game back then, and he taught me the basics like card hierarchy, etc. That was my first exposure to the game.
Also, when I was working in Sweden as a trader, I would play Zynga poker during the slow hours to keep myself engaged. After moving to India, there was a big break where I didn’t really play except with family and friends during Diwali. So, it was minimal interaction until I actually decided to hang out with the poker boys of Delhi. I would, in fact, watch people play and learn from them. Later, I started playing cash games, which I like, but I can’t say that I’m the best at it, as I prefer playing tournaments.
When I was living in Delhi, I was playing poker in my free time as I have many friends who played house games. Soon, I started organizing some friendly games in Delhi with close friends and began to enjoy it even more.
Then I got invited to play at Deltin, and I’d never been to any casino in India. That’s how I began my poker journey, from being like a recreational player to turning semi-pro.
I also participated in the PSL qualifiers and finished fourth! In the subsequent rounds, I finished at the final table, and it was the first time I was playing a live tournament!
What are your observations of the industry?
What I like about the industry is camaraderie because, you know, everybody knows everybody. It’s like a college reunion during live tournaments. We all know each other more or less, and there’s no bad blood, people discuss hands, and it’s such a warm, friendly, and inviting community to be part of. As it’s so close-knit, you look forward to playing events like the WPT, DPT, or any one of these tournaments seeing your mates from all over the place. So, it’s an opportunity to meet and catch up. That is probably the biggest highlight – the friendliness in the community and the warmth – which I really miss.
I look forward to when things go back to normal again.
On the other hand, I think that the poker community, in general, is misrepresented in the public eye because of how the Indian laws are structured right now. I hope that someday soon, it will be more like in the U.S., where the game is more socially accepted.
Who are the players you look up to?
Among female players, I really admire Muskan Sethi, Nikita Luther, and Minissha Lamba. I know them personally, and they’re highly skilled and so amazing to watch. I am super proud of them whenever they do well and the way they represent the female poker community!
We are sure many of our female followers would take away great insights from this interaction with Kat as she clearly highlights how the game is open to anyone who shows the slightest hint of interest.