This time last year Maria Ho was one of fifty players remaining in the World Series of Poker Main Event. When she busted in 38th place it was the best by a female last year and earned Ho the media exposure and opportunities to play more tournaments.
Fast forward to the 2008 Main Event and Ho again finds herself with a sincere interest in the last woman standing. Only it’s not her.
Just 30 minutes into Sunday’s action Ho’s close friend Tiffany Michelle became 2008’s last woman standing when Lisa Parsons was eliminated in 76th place. In 2007 Michelle was working with PokerNews and interviewed Ho following her elimination and since then the two have struck up a friendship. So much so that Ho flew back to Las Vegas Saturday night to give Michelle support.
“She got on a plane to be here with me because she wanted to hear the announcement,” said Michelle of the customary announcement of the last female standing. “She will be overjoyed to pass the torch to me and I’ll love that I get to take it from her because we’re such good friends.”
“I wanna be there with her,” said Ho, as she watched from the rail. “I’ve told her whatever you’ve been doing it’s obviously been working, so I’m not here to tell her how to play certain hands.” But Ho has given her some advice on the situation she finds herself in.
“I’m here to tell her that ‘I know you’re either going to get a lot of respect right now or they’re going to try and bully you around. However they’re trying to play against you, you need to play back at them that way’.”
Indeed Michelle has found something that’s working for her. Through the early part of Day 5 she’s sitting in the top 10 in chips and has found herself receiving a lot of attention from ESPN, including some time at one of the two featured tables.
“I think it’s really to be the last woman standing,” said Michelle. “I think it’s a great accomplishment, I know there’s a lot of good that can come from that.” Michelle also hopes that her age helps bring more women to the tables in the future.
“To be a young chick that’s good at poker, to kind of break the stereotype of the women that are already in poker is very cool. It’s not a young woman’s game.”
Michelle plans to continue her current gig at PokerNews, but should she bust out anytime soon it will be Ho that does the exit interview. “We thought it would be cool if I got to do it, so we set it up,” said Ho. “Hopefully it’s not for a while though.”
While Michelle is only taking it one hand at a time she can’t help but occasionally sneak a peek at what it would be like to have to return to the Rio in November. Only one woman, Barbara Enright, has ever made the final table of the Main Event.
“I just thought about it for two seconds today, again I’m not getting ahead of myself and go there because I don’t want the pressure.” said Michelle. “But that would be so cool.”
Follow Tiffany Michelle’s progress at WorldSeriesofPoker.com.