No Horsing Around on Home Turf - Katja Thater

Katja Thater
Katja Thater playing in Day 2 of the 2008 PokerStars EPT German Open

Representing the EPT title sponsor PokerStars and playing in her home country this week at the 2008 EPT German Open, Katja Thater is being pulled in all sorts of different directions.

But despite all the distractions, she was nice enough to sit down with on the Day 2 dinner break at the Hohensyburg Casino to discuss how things are going, the German poker scene and if there's any relation between her love of horses and her love of H.O.R.S.E..

So Katja, how is your 2008 PokerStars EPT German Open going so far?

Yeah, it's going OK. I have about $40,000 right now, but on the first level today I was up to $40,000 as well, then I lost a coin flip. I raised on the button in an unraised pot and the small blind pushed all-in for like $10k with tens. I was thinking maybe he was thinking I'm stealing and maybe he's not that good and I called. I had A-Q and I lost that and then I was down. Then I was down, down, down, down and I made a bit of a comeback. I'm just hanging in there and I think our table will be the next to break up. We'll have to see what will happen when I move.

Katja Thater
On home turf!

You're playing here in your home country; is there any added pressure?

I don't feel any pressure anyway. But there is a lot of work to do here. Yesterday I had media stuff to do from noon through 9 p.m. so for me the week is really busy - a lot of promotional stuff. Hopefully I'm working on staying a long time in this tournament so I don't have to stand around and answer the same questions all day again.

Plus there's a lot more attention focused on you here...

I am kind of used to it, but it is a little bit disturbing when you sit at the table and every 30 seconds there's a flashbulb in your face or a camera around you filming your hole cards. This is not very comfortable, but OK I'm used to it; that's the deal, that's my job and I guess it's fine.

Katja Thater
The business suit.

What's your assessment of the level of play here at home? Do you think the German people are getting the hang of this whole Texas Hold 'em thing?

Absolutely; the German people are known for their love of learning and I think the German poker nation, over the last two years, has seen a lot more people playing poker and they are getting better and better. We have very good poker education here, with our IntelliPoker, [which] is an online poker school where everyone can learn from players like me and Daniel Negreanu. We are providing a great poker education for people and I think as a result the level of poker here in Germany is very high.

I understand that outside of poker, you are involved in the world of horse breeding. You also have a bracelet from the 2007 WSOP in Razz, which is one of the games played in H.O.R.S.E. Tell me Katja, is there some connection there?

Katja Thater
2007 WSOP Razz champ!

This is a new question for me (laughs). That's not bad. I love to play H.O.R.S.E., that's right, but it's not because of my horses. I am a very flexible poker player, I not only play No-Limit Hold'em, I play all the games. For me it doesn't matter what kind of game we are playing, poker is a competition and whether it's Chinese Poker or Razz or Omaha Hi-Lo for me it's the same. I'm very good at all the games.

I have to talk to PokerStars because I want to play the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the 2008 WSOP because I am so good in all these games. I think I really have an edge. But for $50,000 I'm hoping they can sponsor me for this event.

But there must be some connection between the two pursuits. Perhaps it's that they are both competitive?

Yes. When you are working with a horse, you are working with some unknowns, just like at the poker table. When you want to move a horse, it is like 700 kilos so you have to manipulate the horse and that's very similar to poker as well.

Katja Thater
Pushing the limits!

You have to manipulate people and you have to know when to give up. With a horse it can kill you and on the poker table it's the same thing.

Well here's hoping you don't die out there on the poker tables Katja. Lord knows dealing with the media can't always be as easy as it is with

* * * * * * * * * * *

Unfortunately for Thater, she was bucked off the 2008 EPT German Open poker horse soon after our chat. But she immediately joined the Chinese Poker game in the hallways of the Hohensyburg Casino and word is she crushed it all night. Katja Thater understands that when you fall down off that horse, it's important to jump right back on.

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