Related Essays and Reports by Andrew W Scott
Series of Poker Main Event... Report number 8
Vegas, Nevada, USA
Maria Ho has just had the time of her life, picking
up a spectacular $237,865 prize money for her 38th
place finish amongst the field of 6,358 starters in
this year's World Series of Poker main event.
what garnered her the most attention was being the
last women standing in the event. This gives her bragging
rights as the female World Champion of Poker for the
next year, at the tender age of 24. But, amazingly,
she says she will have probably given the game away
in less than five years. Read on…
Ho studies the cards on day 5 of the World Series
of Poker Main Event
Picture courtesy pokerfolio.com
who describes herself as a professional poker player,
hails from Arcadia, Los Angeles. Born in Taiwan, she
moved to LA when she was four. In most respects Maria
is just like any other typical attractive girl. She
loves to sing, dance, and hang out with her friends.
She parties a bit (Grey Goose and Red Bull please),
and likes RnB and hip-hop music. She has a boyfriend.
She admits to being an avid consumer of US Weekly
magazine, pizza, cheeseburgers, and the TV show Friends.
in one respect Maria is quite different from her peers,
and that is she has a natural affinity for cards.
It runs in the family - Maria plays bridge with her
grandfather, and her father has played poker recreationally
for as long as she can remember. She was first exposed
to poker for money at college, learning from a college
friend and her boyfriend, also an avid poker player.
About two years ago she turned pro, making poker her
main form of income. She has no job other than her
four-days-a-week fix of poker, mainly at the Commerce
Casino, the biggest card room in the world.
instinctive feel for the game is highlighted by her
admission that she has never read a poker book cover-to-cover,
but likes Barry Greenstein's book, Ace on the River,
"because its got pictures in it". Go figure. She's
played in about 20 card rooms throughout California,
Nevada and Arizona and Aruba. Preferring to play live
rather than on-line, Maria feels one of her great
strengths is her ability to read other players. She
says being a woman has both advantages and disadvantages,
"in cash games the guys might give me a free showdown,
but also they see women as passive players so my milder
opponents get more aggressive with me."
is not unfamiliar with high stakes play in cash games.
Her biggest win in a day was $42,000. But she's also
had huge losses. She usually plays the $100/$200 game,
but she once lost $55,000 in a day when she got caught
up in a $500/$1,000 game and found herself playing
short handed with poker legend Johnny Chan, winner
of the 1987 and 1998 World Series main event.
a cash game player, tournaments are not usually her
thing. Before entering this year's main event, she
had only seven cashes in tournaments totaling a relatively
small $30,000. But that was all about to change. Her
38th placed result, beating out 99.4% of the field,
has given her overnight recognition. Being the only
female face in a sea of male faces didn't hurt either.
"It's good," was her humble reply, when asked how
she felt she felt about her win, "but I don't want
any special recognition as a woman. I just want recognition
as a good player. I feel a lot more confident about
my game. Now I have accomplished something I can share
with my fellow poker players, and they can all see
that I've improved."
as much as she might want to downplay her special
status as one of the games few female players, she
gathered media attention for just that reason. As
soon as she started getting deep in the tournament,
she was approached by sponsors, and signed a deal
with online card room, Bodog. "Now I want to play
more tournaments", Maria said, "I don't want to place
highly, I want to actually win a big major tournament.
I just want to become better and better. I'm really
interested in travel, and tournaments give me the
opportunity to do that."
are upbeat for Maria right now after her big win.
But one senses a darker side to Maria's poker life.
She says that it can be a stressful lifestyle because
of the swings in her bankroll. One day she wins big
and feels on top of the world, and the next day everything
can turn. "I've hit rock bottom more than once," she
said, "I lost my entire bankroll after a terrible
run of three or four months, and had to borrow money
to claw my way back". "Also it's a bit of an anti-social
life. Staying up late playing poker means you get
very little sleep sometimes, and traveling on the
poker circuit can be hard. I flake on my friends a
bit, because if I'm in a good game I'm not going to
leave. It's hard to catch up with them because they
have normal 9 to 5 jobs and that just doesn't match
my hours." But she is quick to add that she's not
complaining, saying that the negative aspects of the
lifestyle are the price that needs to be paid to play
the game she enjoys so much.
is not totally immune to superstition. "I usually
stack my chips in 20s, but if its running bad I will
maybe change it to 30s. If I start doing something,
and the cards are running good, I'll make sure I keep
doing that thing." "I don't have a favourite hand,
but there is a hand I hate - a pair of Queens. I lost
with that hand for about three months straight."
would think after the incredible success Maria has
just enjoyed, she would be planning a long and fruitful
career as a poker pro for decades to come. I'm astonished
to hear from Maria that it's not so. "The chance that
I'll be playing poker in five years is less than five
percent. People think poker is all-consuming, and
that poker players only care about poker, but it's
just not true. We all have interests in the 'real
world', outside of poker. Maybe for me I can't balance
poker and the outside world, I think eventually I'll
give up poker to do other things." Her parents own
a real estate business, and she'd like to get into
that. She has entrepreneurial instincts and would
like to start her own business someday. Let's hope
she can enjoy the same success running her own business
in the "real world" as she has in the poker world.
At least she'll have plenty of start-up capital.
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2007 Andrew W Scott
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