Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maria Ho - The (Poker)Proust Q

Can I just say, once again, that I love Twitter?

I think because of Twitter (and, maybe, a certain Sapporo-filled Vegas night?), I received a message from Connie at the fabulous WinStar Casino on the day I left my WSOP dreams on the McCarran tarmac. I was hoping she was calling to tell me I'd won some obscure, random Red River lottery that you didn't have to actually enter to win. That, unfortunately, wasn't the case. But, it was close.

Instead of riches, Connie was offering me the opportunity to interview Maria Ho. Maria freaking Ho. Maria of the "I bested 864 other people, and came thisclose to fading Allen Bari, to runner up Event #4 of this year's World Series of Poker for a whopping $540k" Ho.

Not gonna lie...I jumped at that chance. And I immediately started writing out a bunch of poker theory/strat questions and asking Twitter friends for help. I even solicited (and graciously received) advice from a veteran poker journalist, whose work I love reading, @WriterJen.

But as I sat there trying to formulate questions, I started thinking...who am I kidding? Yes, I want to know how Maria got so good at poker. I want to know about her transition from UB to Rise Poker. I want to know about advice she might give amateur players on how to improve their game. But I'm not a journalist and I didn't have a year (ok, she didn't) to spend picking her brain on those issues. And besides...what I really wanted to know, and what I thought others might be interested in, too, was who she is as a person, the inner stuff we all have in common but don't often hear about from our heroes.

So, I took a chance. And rather than re-invent the wheel, I took a bit from Marcel Proust (yeah, it's a stretch), a bit from Twitter, a bit from my own curiosity, and came up with a modified version of the Proust Questionnaire. I'm calling it the (Poker)Proust Q,* and Maria's my first willing participant.

Maria was better than a great sport. Because unlike the PQs you see in, say, Vanity Fair, she had to answer these questions on the fly, without any opportunity to put more than 5 seconds of thought into them. I found her open and uninhibited willingness to take this non-traditional poker interview route to be fun and refreshing...actually, these are two words that I think suit her quite well.

You know she's a hell of a professional poker player, but you may not know that Maria speaks Mandarin, graduated with a degree in Communications and Pre-Law, and that she's got a thing for lips. That's where the (Poker)Proust Q comes in. Maria was wonderfully game to give this a go. Thus, she is the first in what I hope will be a series of (Poker)Proust Q's from these people in the poker community I've come to view as modern day rock stars (don't hate, at heart I'm just a big ol' fan). I hope you like this and will check back in to see what other brave poker rock star(s) might open the door to us, sharing a little something that we don't often get to see.

And with that, here's her own words, for this, the inaugural (Poker)Proust Q:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being in an environment where I’m surrounded by the people that I truly love and care about. I think anywhere that my family and friends are is really what makes me happy at the end of the day. If we lived in a cardboard box somewhere but I got to see them every day and spend quality time with them, that would be my idea of perfect happiness.

What makes you laugh?
Some people would call it off-color humor. I love people who are super witty and who think on the fly and who have that kind of sarcastic humor, I find it really funny. I’m not a conventional humor kind of girl. Off the wall, crazy, border-line absurd is what I find funny. 

Where do you feel most at home?
It’s not a place; it’s who I’m with.  If I can take my family with me anywhere, then that’s home.

Of what achievement in poker are you most proud?
It’s not any one specific thing, but in poker it would have to be that for six years I’ve supported myself solely on money I’ve made through poker and I’ve never really relied on anybody else’s help for that. Pretty much, I’ve done it on my own without being backed or staked by anyone so I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I haven’t really gone broke in this game yet and I’ve never played above my means. I’ve taken it really slowly and made sure that I can continue to build and grow my bankroll and career and say that it was all on my own terms.

In life?
That I am a very loyal and sincere person, reliable to my friends and family. I’m proud that I’m one of those people that others can call on when they need something. I’ve become that for a lot of people that I care a lot about and I’m really, really proud that I can be that person to them.

What is your most treasured possession?
It’s definitely not any physical or tangible thing. I would have to say, my family.

What is your greatest fear?
That I would go through life not having at least one person fully know and understand everything about me. I think we all want understanding.

What trait do you most deplore in yourself?
I’m quick to jump to conclusions. I can be a little confrontational in situations that might not need that level of heated aggression and passion. I could learn to reel that in a little bit.

What trait do you most deplore in others?

What is your greatest extravagance?
My car (a Maserati Gran Turismo, link has some crazy sound so watch out)

Like lawyers, poker players are often thought of as really good liars. Outside of poker, on what occasion do you lie?
I make it a point not to lie about things that are very important or that I think is going to hurt someone else.  But, and this is embarrassing, but I do still lie to my mom still about where I am.  Like, even though I’m 28 years old she’ll still call me at three in the morning, “Where are you?” and I’ll make something up because I don’t want her to worry.  Sorry, Mom.

When and where do you remembering being your happiest?
In grade school. I feel like when you’re that young, you have no troubles whatsoever and you never worry about anything…you just don’t sweat any stuff at all. Anywhere from second to sixth grade I was super happy and I just didn’t have much to worry about. It’s nice to be a child – your parents do all the worrying for you.

If you died and could come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

What is your favorite journey?
Amazing Race was one of the best experiences of my life. It was definitely the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I learned a lot about how I am in those kind of situations because I felt that I was tested and challenged at every point on that show. Not every day in life can you say that about something you’re put through.  I was put to the test and I realized I can do anything I put my mind to and that’s a nice confirmation.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I don’t think any virtues that are highly touted are overrated.

Which living person do you most despise?
Wow, despise is a strong word…I don’t really know anybody that I despise.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Like, um, and ya know.

What is your greatest regret?
When I was younger, I was really stubborn and I let pride get in the way of friendship sometimes.  There are people out there that I wish I had kept in better contact with and I let things pass me by a little bit. Some friendships I could have done a better job of staying in touch with people or making more of an effort. I regret that.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like the ability to affect some kind of change in every single person that I meet. There are people in life who make you want to be better, do something greater, like a Mother Theresa…that’s a quality I’d like to have. 

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Definitely my family. No boy. Ever. Ever.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being alone, not having people around you that you can talk to and count on and be yourself with.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be less judgmental.  I think sometimes I’m a little quick to judgment on things or people.  I’m pretty opinionated. I’d like to be more open minded to everything before I make any kind of rash decisions or judgments.

If you weren't a poker professional, what would you be?
A teacher.

What is your most striking characteristic?
I feel like I have a really big heart. I like to give more than I like to receive.

What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty and their trustworthiness.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Batman because he did things for people for the good of the people and not because he wanted any credit or recognition.

What is your motto?
Live in the moment and be happy with what you have and try not to focus on what you don’t have. Make the best of every situation. Do everything like it’s the last time.

What is your favorite NLHE hand?

Who's a better rapper, Jeff Madsen or Prahlad Friedman?

Who *really* should've won The Apprentice, Annie Duke or Joan Rivers?
Annie Duke

Who is your favorite Micros character?
Oh no!  I don’t really watch the Micros.

What is your favorite karaoke song?
Baby Got Back or anything that gets the crowd going.

What is your best @AlCantHang memory?
Generally speaking, he is always down to get really hammered and I don’t know anybody who has a liver quite like his.

@KaraOTR or Angelina Jolie?
Hmmm...I think I have to go with Angelina Jolie on this one because I’ve got a thing for lips...I'm a big lips person and maybe this is going to sound border-line lesbian but Angelina is just really, really, really beautiful to me.

What is the best thing about Twitter?
Best thing about Twitter is you can spread information so fast and it makes people get to the heart of what they really want to say, no beating around the bush because of the whole 140-characters rule. And how easy it is to access.

Who is your favorite Tweeter
It’s a toss-up between Erik Seidel and Doyle Brunson. I think they have some really funny, off-color humor that I like. Just really witty humor, Erik is definitely well known for that. And Doyle, you would not think that somebody, for his age, would have quite that sense of off-color humor, but Doyle definitely brings that in his tweets a lot.

Who is your favorite Main Event Champ?
That’s hard. I think anybody recently, they’ve just been good ambassadors. Moneymaker, for example, and those since him, have had a really tough job in terms of being an ambassador for a game that’s huge and is growing.  All of them have done a really good job of bringing this game into the mainstream. 


* yeah, so I made that (Poker)Proust Q thingy at the top all by myself with Microsoft Paint. If you think you can come up with a better logo, take your best shot biznatches!


  1. Wonderful! I love the way you did this. You never really needed my advice in the first place. Congratulations! :)

  2. "What is your best @AlCantHang Memory?"... HAH!! Brilliant.

  3. Enjoyed reading the interview!

  4. Thank you, Laoch.It was a lot of fun to do and Maria was swell. She had a lot of interviews to get through that day.

    Jen, yay! And yes I did need your advice. Thanks for sharing your time with me.

    @KimShannon, *some* people's best @AlCantHang memories are real doozies. Just saying.

    Anon, thanks for reading it!

  5. This was a great read. Hopefully you will have many more.

  6. Hey enormous stuff or pleasant information you are offering online


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...