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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | Poker Personalities

Maria Ho Back To Try Again

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Every year as the Main Event gets closer to the final table, the question comes up “will a woman make the final table” and “can a woman win the Main Event?” With the exception of Barbara Enright who finished 5th in 1995 no woman has done so. Last year, it was young professional Maria Ho who the ESPN cameras focused on. Try as she might, Maria was unable to break through to the ultimate dream of every poker player, men and women alike, but a 38th place finish and nearly a quarter of a million dollars offered some consolation.

Today, I had the chance to sit down with Maria and have a conversation with her about where she came from and where she's going. It was a captivating chat with an intelligent, sparkling young woman.

AH: When and how did you get started playing poker?

Maria Ho:
It was about 6 years ago when I was in college at U.C. San Diego. Friends would invite me to play in their home games and I just got hooked and one thing led to another.

AH: Did you finish college?

Maria Ho:
I did... with a degree incommunications.

AH: How did you learn about poker? Was it through reading books or playing?

Maria Ho
(laughs as she says this): I learned from losing my money in 3-6 and 4-8 limit hold em games. Losing only made me want to get better and I started sweating good players and talking over hands with them.

AH: What does your family think of you being a professional poker player?

Maria Ho:
They don't like it. I mean after my success last year they understand it a bit more but they still want me to do more with my life than just poker. In fact, I've spent most of the last year helping them with their real estate business.

AH: So does this mean you won't always be a professional poker player?

Maria Ho:
Yes. I love poker and it's my passion now but I want to help my family and will always be able to enjoy poker when I have time to play it.
AH: What is it that you like about poker?

Maria Ho:
I'm competitive and especially in tournament poker there is nothing better than knowing that you're the last person standing. I also like the fact that there is no ceiling to what you can learn. No matter how much you think you know, there is always some new situation that will arise that you can learn from.

AH: How did your success in last year's Main Event change you?

Maria Ho:
I'm still the same player and person but the thing it has probably done the most is that it changed how people view me and more people try and bust me now. (Maria jokes about how that was probably the case with the guy that just took her out of the tournament with pocket 7's against her pocket aces). People are usually more aggressive against me now since they've seen me on television.

AH: How would you characterize your style of play?

Maria Ho:
A lot of it depends on what the structure of the tournament is but I would say that I am pretty loose aggressive pre-flop.

AH: What type of tournament structures do you prefer?

Maria Ho:
Definitely events like the Main Event. I like slower structures where there is more post-flop play and you can make decisions without going broke in one hand.

AH: Do you play online much?

Maria Ho:
More now than I used to, especially since I signed a deal with Bodog and have been playing there.

AH: You're mainly a cash game player right? What limits do you play?

Maria Ho:
Yes, I love tournaments but I play more cash games than tournaments. Usually anything from 100/200 to 400/800 depending on what's going on.

AH: Many people are saying that poker has reached its height... that it has no where to go but down from here. Why do you think that is and is there anything poker can do to get back into the limelight?

Maria Ho:
The UIGEA and how hard it is to get money on and off the Internet had a huge impact. The average player won't think it's worth the trouble or effort to put money into a poker site and it has had a cyclical effect on the rest of the poker world. I think that what ESPN is doing with the Main Event in delaying the final table will be a big help. I know as a sports fan, I am following the Lakers right now, that I hate knowing who's going to win ahead of time and that's always been one of the problems with televised poker. You always knew ahead of time who was going to win. What ESPN is doing will bring some of the suspense back into poker.

AH: How many events are you playing this year?

Maria Ho:
10-15, depending on how I do in some of them. Bodog is putting me into the Main Event so I'll definitely be playing that one.

AH: Last question. Can or will a woman ever win the Main Event?

Maria Ho:
Absolutely. What people don't realize is that there is such a small percentage of woman that play in relation to the number of men that play. It's only a matter of time before a woman wins it. I'm prouder of my finish... 38th out of nearly 6,000 people... than I am of being the last woman standing. It's nice to be recognized but it's important to be recognized in relation to the entire field not just as a woman.

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