How Maria Ho Used the Mythical Neck-Pulse Tell at 2007 WSOP

Maria Ho
George Danzer's scarf won't look so silly after you hear this story.

You know that legendary live poker tell where the vein in someone's neck is throbbing uncontrollably, broadcasting the fact that the big bet they just made is a bluff?

Well, back in 2007 Maria Ho actually used it to make a massive call for her tournament life and go on to finish 38th in the WSOP Main Event.

“It was a huge turning point,” Ho recalled in's latest Best Poker Moments video.

“It gave me a really big stack but it also gave me the confidence for the rest of the tournament to go with my reads.”

She went on to earn $237,865 which was by far her biggest score at the time. Since then Maria has racked up over $1.6 million in live tournament earnings, but this is a moment she'll never forget.

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"His Neck Just Started Pulsating"

Spotting that tell and having the confidence to go with her gut was a big step for Maria. She'd only been playing live tournaments for eight months, and professional poker for about two years.

The hand started with a ton of preflop action. Maria was holding pocket queens. The flop came out eight-high and her opponent put her all in.

Maria Ho
Maria Ho at the World Series of Poker.

On paper the action was telling Maria she could easily be beat by pocket aces or kings. Her opponent was sitting directly to her left and Maria had profiled him as an experienced poker pro.

Maria tanked for five or six long minutes, during which time her opponent got more and more uncomfortable.

“I remember so vividly like it was yesterday, his neck just started pulsating,” said Maria.

“I could read that as nervousness, or sometimes people get really excited because they have a huge hand. But because he was an experienced pro I felt like that was more just nervousness.

“I felt like the longer I waited him out, the more nervous I sensed his body language to be.”

Maria ended up making the right call but she wasn't out of the woods yet.

“I still had to fade the turn and river and I remember thinking that it was like the [most important] two cards coming down right now.”

Check out the video above to find out how it all played out and use the links below to watch other Best Poker Moments videos.

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