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Maria Ho: You've gotta see her
Well into Day 5 of the World Series of Poker Main Event, Maria Ho is short stacked. Yet, of all the players hurting for chips at the championship, the petite California girl is garnering an inordinate amount of attention.
With the elimination of 911 dispatcher Kelly Jo McGlothlin just hours earlier, Ho is last woman standing in at the biggest game in town.
That's all well and fine, a stylish and friendly Ho told PokerListings.com during a quick break from a tough table, but what's really important is seeing the end of the day and, with any luck, the end of the tournament.
How are you feeling about your game today?
Today's been a really tough day for me. I thought yesterday was tough, but today, I mean, it's hard because I'm below average and I have a very, very tough table. They're very aggressive and they have a lot of chips. So right now I'm just trying to play a patient game but I can't also just wait for a good hand because I'm going to bleed to death with all the blinds and antes and stuff. I don't know. I feel I'm playing as well as I can given my situation, but I think I could be playing better.
Do you have a specific style you usually turn to?
I like to go with selectively aggressive. If I'm in a pot then I'd like to be as aggressive as I can be given the situation - and that's kind of what I've been implementing every single day. But today I've been pretty passive, I feel like, so I think I need to up the aggressiveness in my game.
Did you have any goals coming into this? What were your expectations?
From the very beginning, my goal was really just to play the best that I could. I wasn't thinking about what I want to do as far as what place I want to get or how deep I want to go. It was more just to play my best game every day and I've been taking it day by day and luckily I've made it every single day. I'm pleasantly surprised but I kind of expected to come back because I feel like I've been playing my best.
What's your experience? I heard you're a cash-game player from L.A.
I've been playing poker professionally for about two years - since I graduated from college. I play Limit cash games mainly at Commerce - all live games; I don't play online.
As far as being the last woman standing in the Main Event: Does that matter to you?
It's a little bit of a double-edged sword. I'm not a feminist but I admire strong and independent women. I feel like them making that distinction is great and me being that woman is great, but I want to be the last person standing, not just the last woman standing. But I feel like I've done a good job representing females because I feel like females are extremely strong players. Every female that I've encountered in my cash games in L.A., they're very tough. So, I'm glad that I've had a good showing and I just want to make it deep for them and for me and not just the gender but for everything this title will bring to someone's game.
Do you have a plan to increase your stack for the rest of the day?
Well, the blinds are big; I have play left considering my stack. My plan for the rest of the day is: I really want to make it to tomorrow. I heard that today is, statistically, the longest day as far as players getting knocked out very slowly. I think it's important to be patient at this point but I'm going to try to remain aggressive even though my table is pretty hard to play against.
You have an affiliation with Bodog Poker now? How did that come about?
Yesterday I was approached by a couple of people and today I decided to go with Bodog. It just started about two hours ago. I talked to them on break when I became the last female left and so for right now and the remainder of the Main Event, I will be affiliated with Bodog.
Are you having fun?
I wish I could say I'm having more fun, but it's pretty nerve-racking at this stage and also because I'm not in that comfortable of a position with my chips. You know, I would like to say I'm excited, but I'm just anxious. I just want to get through the day and if I make it through then I'm going to come back and play to win. But I've been playing to win up until now so I hope I can keep that mindset instead of just surviving.
Though low on chips, Maria Ho is flush with determination to live to see Day 6. Regardless of what she cashes at this point, it will be her most lucrative in-the-money finish at the WSOP to date. The pro placed 97th in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em tournament this year and was 110th at the same event in 2005.
Ho better get comfortable at the felt in order to top Barbara Enright's record for best placement by a woman in the Main Event for finishing fifth in 1995. Good thing it's familiar terrain.