An Interview With Maria Ho
by Aaron Angerman
Maria Ho picked up poker in 2002 the old fashioned way, in a home game with some friends. By 2005, the UC San Diego grad was cashing in the biggest tournaments in Southern California and became a fixture at the limit Hold'em tables across Los Angeles. In 2007, the girl from Arcadia quickly became the darling of the World Series of Poker Main Event, grabbing $237,000 for her 38th-place finish and earning the title of "last female standing" on the poker's biggest stage.
Maria's parents left Taiwan for the U.S. in the early nineties. They brought with them real estate experience and soon enough, they had opened their own real estate company, a company that Maria plans on running one day. Maria is currently filling in as mom, but was kind enough to take time away from running the family business and prepping her new Poker Pages blog, to speak with us about last year's WSOP and what to expect from her in 2008.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy family schedule to speak with us. Most poker players would take the success you've had and parlay that into a full-time poker career. You didn't do that, nor plan to. What do you see yourself doing?
Maria Ho: The plan has been for me to take over the family real estate business. I planned on playing poker for a few more years, but my parents are already starting to talk about retiring.
AA: If you had another successful WSOP in 2008, could you really pass up the opportunity to play full-time?
MH: People always say that they would walk away from the game, but I really feel that way. It would take a lot to change my mind. I have a lot of ambitions and passions away from poker. Besides, the lifestyle and travel is a lot to deal with. It's something that doesn't feel suitable to me.
AA: What are your feelings towards women's events and those players who are opposed to 'Ladies Only' tournaments?
MH: I see the ladies events as a very good platform. Some women don't feel comfortable playing at the same table as men. That's just how it is. They feel more comfortable learning with other women. This just gives them the option and I don't see a problem with that. It's great for women, which will only be good for the game.
The bad thing is that these tournaments are usually crapshoots. The structure is pretty poor. I'm not sure if they don't feel the need to create a good structure, since we're just females. So, I'd like to see the structure changed.
AA: You've managed to keep a low profile since bursting onto the scene last year. What have you been up to since the WSOP?
MH: I played at the WPT Legends of Poker event and at Borgata, but nothing since then. I still play at Commerce or the Bike, mostly the bigger limit games. I've also started to play online again. I used to play a lot when Party Poker was still around in the states. I just got back into the online thing recently. I've been spending a lot of time away from the tables lately, but that will change soon.
AA: What's more important to you; the fact that you were the 38th- place finisher in the 2008 Main Event, or that you were the last female standing?
MH: I have to think about that one... I guess it would be finishing 38th. I'm very proud to represent women in the WSOP, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter as much. The Main Event structure is great and I'm very proud of the fact that I played well. I think I was able to overcome the luck factor last year and put together a good run.
AA: Do you have any goals for the upcoming WSOP?
MH: I hope to back up last year's finish. I played just three tournaments last year, with two cashes. I don't want to be seen as a Tiffany Williamson, proving the WSOP isn't skill based. I'm going to play a lot more events this time around and hopefully perform well.
Maria struck a deal with Bodog during last year's Main Event. This year, Mariawill be a part of Team Bodog for the duration of the 2008 WSOP. Look for her blog, exclusively at PokerPages.com, where she will be providing tourney-by-tourney updates and a first-hand look into the life of a rising female star on the poker scene.