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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Round Table - Poker After Dark’s New Leading Lady – Marianela Pereyra

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I recently caught up with Marianela at the local Coffee Bean in Los Angeles to chat about her new job with NBC as the hostess of Poker After Dark.

She is a gorgeous bubbly ball of energy from the get go. She opted for water, saying she doesn’t drink coffee, and immediately started telling me about her childhood and growing up on the road with her parents.

“I was not born in this country; I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My parents were international tango dancers and even though I was very little, I toured the world. I don’t remember half of it, though, so it doesn’t count! I pretty much remained backstage for the majority of my youth.”

Around the age of five, she moved with her family to the United States and focused on her schooling. After completion of high school she told me she decided to attend the University of Maryland and found herself quite busy.

“I was a dancer for Maryland, not a cheerleader, a dancer! Huge difference,” She said with a laugh. “I graduated in 2002 but while I was at Maryland, I hosted and produced my own video show for the local Virginia Area. That got picked up nationally and that’s sort of how I got into the whole entertainment business.”

Pereyra’s face lit up when I asked her about working on Poker After Dark.

“I wasn’t really nervous coming into the show. After working long hours at the World Series of Poker and doing a live show for four years, I was ready. At the end of the day these are all just human beings, extremely talented, but they are just human beings. At the end of the day you are just honing in on their skill. It was about being aware of what was going on at the table and letting the players speak their minds. When they come up to the bar to speak to me, it’s more about what they are thinking and I am the vehicle between the players and what people are thinking at home.”

When I asked her about any behind the scenes antics, she immediately remembered a funny moment.

“One time before one of the matches started, I saw Phil Hellmuth jamming out to his IPOD and I was wondering what he was listening to,” she started laughing. “I couldn’t believe what was in his IPOD, hip-hop! Daniel Negreanu was making fun of him because he was singing “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg, Sinatra style.”

She then broke out in her rendition of Phil’s singing, “Rollin down the streeeeet smokin indooo,” she did a drawn out ode to Frank Sinatra.

Pereyra has put in her time studying the game as well as the key players of the game.

“I covered the WSOP for 22 days up until the final table and I can assure you if you don’t know what the hell you are talking about you are going to have a problem. I admit I’m not a Phil Gordon, I’m not a poker analyst but you absolutely have to understand the game and you have to know who you are speaking to. If you don’t know who Stu Ungar is, if you don’t know who Doyle Brunson is, if you don’t know the majority of these people, I think it puts you in a really big disadvantage. It’s television, it’s entertainment. I’m not sitting there analyzing the game, but if you don’t know what the hell you are talking about it is going to make it pretty difficult, I can assure you.”

Another interesting talent Pereyra possesses is her ability to speak several languages, and according to her that includes Ebonics.

“I get down,” she said with a laugh. “I was born in Buenos Aires so Spanish is my native tongue, and I hate that phrase, my native tongue. It sounds nasty! Anyways I studied French throughout middle school, high school and college. In college I got into Italian, and Italian is very much…I mean I already talk like an Italian with my hands! I can’t get my hands to stay still. You would have to tie me up for a real serious interview! I just have a real strong passion for languages and culture.”

When Pereyra isn’t hosting or perfecting her languages, she is living on the East Coast these days enjoying her spare time.

“I’m here in LA, in this fabulous non-pilot season that we are having. I am a big fan of warm weather and lately I have been crazy about tennis. Now that I have a little bit more freedom in my life it’s great.”

You can check out Marianela Monday through Saturday at 2:05am on NBC.

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