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Women At The World Series: Maria Mayrinck

Poker Pro Deep In ME: 'I Really Think I’m Going To Make The Final Table'

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As far as the World Series is concerned, this isn’t Maria “Maridu” Mayrinck’s first rodeo. Since 2008, the Brazil native has cashed 11 times and earned $54,872 at the WSOP.

Four of those cashes were made this summer, for a total of $16,536.

By day three of the main event on Thursday, July 10, she was playing comfortably with a fat stack of nearly 400,000 chips. It’s a remarkable comeback, considering the one-year hiatus Mayrinck took from poker after her mother passed away nearly a year and a half ago and she subsequently began experiencing panic attacks. After working with a psychiatrist and taking time to focus on her own well-being, she’s back this summer playing better than ever, from no-limit hold’em to mixed games.

Card Player had the opportunity to speak with Mayrinck during the dinner break on July 10, to talk about her confidence in the main event, how her technique has adapted and how she’s learned to control her anxiety at the poker table.

Elaina Sauber: How is this main event treating you so far?

Maria Mayrinck: It’s treating me really well. I don’t like to brag, but I feel very comfortable with my stack—I have 400,000. I’m feeling really good, and I’m honestly thinking I’m going to final table this; I actually believe that.

ES: What would it mean for you to make the final table in this event?

MM: It would be so huge, because it would be in memoriam of my mom, who recently passed away. I think it would be good for a lot of women in poker, I think it would be good for a lot of international women in poker. I’m not kidding, I kind of have seen it happen already, but it just hasn’t physically happened yet, you know what I mean?

ES: Two of your four cashes this summer were in the dealers choice event and seven-card stud. Do you ever wish the main event featured mixed games other than no-limit hold’em?

MM: I mean, it would be interesting if there was like, a day of hold’em, a day of mixed, but then I don’t think the field would get so big. I like having the mixed games—I’m trying to become more of a specialist in it, and I love them. I think they’re super fun.

ES: I saw on Twitter recently that you got new glasses because you were having trouble seeing the cards at the WSOP this year. Can you talk about that?

MM: Two days ago, I misread a board in the main event. I mean, I won the pot, but look how serious that is—that could have cost me a lot of money. So yesterday, I spent the day at the eye doctor and got three [pairs of] glasses—in case I lose one, I have two others. Now I can at least see the flop, the turn and the river, you know? Before, I was having a little trouble.

ES: Are you still playing cash games as well?

MM: I do play cash games. I’m not embarrassed to say this—my mom passed away about a year and five months ago, and when she passed away, I took a one-year hiatus. The other day, I was in the featured table on ESPN playing with Ryan Riess and Greg Merson, and I didn’t even know who they were—I was having a ball with them. I’ve always played cash games, but I’m now trying to focus more on mixed cash games, not so much no-limit.

ES: Is your technique while playing the main event different from how you play other WSOP events?

MM: Totally. In the $1,000 [event], you start out with 3,000 chips, and if you whiff one or two pots, you’re short-stacked and you’re kind of on the rope already. So I’m balls to the wall in those tournaments—try to make a stack or try to go to the pool, you know? I don’t sit there and grind nine blinds all day, I’m not one of those people; maybe I should be. But when I make a stack in the $1Ks, I go back to my normal ways. I am super aggressive a lot of the time—I’m selective about my hands, but I’m super aggressive. I’m more willing to gamble in the beginning of those [events]. Here, there’s no need because there’s so many chips and so much time. [The main event] is so nice and structured; it’s so slow, they give us a dinner break, they give us days off. That is so important, because at like, the 4 p.m. tournaments, they were only letting us go home at 3 a.m., and you had to be back the next day at 2 p.m. I was always exhausted.

ES: How have your fellow players been this year at the main event?

MM: You know what? All the tables, including the $1Ks, the $1.5Ks and the main event, have been super tough. You think you’re going to get these easy tables at $1Ks, $1.5Ks, main event, that’s what it’s supposed to be, [but] they’ve been super tough. I don’t even know how I have 400,000.

ES: I read that in 2012, you started having panic attacks. Can you talk about how that affected your poker career?

MM: Yeah, it was right after my mom died. Poker enhances those feelings of grief, when you’re in a very deep state of grief, because of the emotional roller coaster that it is, so that’s why I took a one-year hiatus, because I promised my family and my psychiatrist. I had never gone to a psychiatrist before, I had never had a panic attack, I had never taken a Xanax before in my life. I’m an athlete, I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink. But yeah, I had three really bad ones—one in an airplane, where I took my clothes off and I bit a stewardess’ hand. That happened. I had to be restrained.

ES: Have you ever had a panic attack at the poker table?

MM: It happened once. I thought [there] was an earthquake, and I called my boyfriend at the time, David [Baker], and he just had to come and hold me, and tell me that there wasn’t an earthquake, and I was like, ‘But I feel everything shaking.’ And I had a lot of chips, and this was in the H.O.R.S.E tournament, so after that, I was like, I’m not emotionally equipped yet to play the World Series, so I stopped.

ES: Do you feel more prepared this year?

MM: I feel great. I’ve been doing a lot of work with my psychiatrist, I’m off all medication, so I feel sharp, I feel there, I’m zoned in, and I really think I’m going to make the final table. I can’t tell you why—you know that woman feeling?

ES: I know the feeling. Do you have any sort of relaxation techniques you’ve learned to use at the table when you’re feeling anxious?

MM: Yes. I bring a little paper, and it has everything I cannot forget. Look, ‘Vision, control your emotional state, forget your past—everything begins now,’ and ‘have a strategy.’ But then you can see that I write more underneath, and I take it out and read it whenever I’m not in a hand, just to keep [my] mind in it. Don’t get distracted by T.V, by phone—no electronics for me at the table. It’s amazing, people finger-banging their phones at the table, [it’s] crazy.

ES: Has your anxiety been more difficult to cope with in this year’s main event, considering how deep you’ve gone?

MM: I feel very confident, very good about it—so good that I even left my dog in the house that I have, and I’m staying at the Rio for the main event, because that’s how much I believe I’m going to go deep and leave a mark on this World Series.