Amazing Race‘s Poker Players Call Final Task ‘Unfair’

11/03/2009 at 12:00 AM EST

Amazing Race‘s Poker Players Call Final Task ‘Unfair’
Monty Brinton/CBS
After surviving wasabi bombs, a nasty fall in a dirty river and a car accident, the lucky streak ended for professional poker players Maria Ho, 26, and Tiffany Michelle, 25, in Holland. Over the phone, the only all-female team in the competition defended their decision to quit during the detour in Holland. --Carrie Bell

It must hurt to be yet another all-female team knocked out due to a lack of strength.Maria: We didn't come into this thinking we would be the physically strongest team, but we also didn't think we would be faced with something that we just couldn't do because we lacked brute strength. We were forced to throw our hands up in defeat. It was a very hard situation ... We would have been able to get the dance and we would have eaten the herring, but that carnival bell dinger added an element that was physically unfair ... It was heartbreaking.

And the golf game really wasn't any easier?Maria: It was not regular golf. And you have to add in the other elements like weather and the fact that we were freezing from swimming. There were literally 30-mile-an-hour winds blowing in the opposite direction of where we had to hit the ball. I don't want to make excuses but we gave everything we had and we still couldn't complete either one.

You both make a successful living in a stressful high-stakes, male-dominated field. It must have taken a lot to make you feel quitting was the only option.Tiffany: TV doesn't do justice to real-life situations. It was so much worse than it looked. That mallet was over 40 pounds. Just lifting it over your head was a task. We were exhausted from going back and forth. We were uncomfortable in wet long johns. I'm a push-through, do-anything girl, but I hit a wall and needed to hug it out.



You went into the Race fairly confident. Was it harder than you imagined it'd be?Maria: It's a hundred times harder physically and mentally than you expected and we realized that within the first hour of landing in Japan. For any competition, you have to put on an air of confidence and capability. After that first wasabi bomb, I was like, "What did we get ourselves into?" Tiffany: Luck plays a huge part. Take the Dubai snowman thing. Erica showed up last and wasn't really digging that hard but she found one first. We can't knock it because we got lucky several times. Luck is also what makes it fun to watch. Without it, you'd know the winner on day one.

You were knocked by viewers for lying about your occupations. Why'd you use that strategy? And do you regret it? Tiffany: After seeing Survivor contestants Rob and Amber deal with so much animosity for being TV personalities who had won a million dollars already, we thought the best strategy would be to highlight something else in our lives as our careers. I'm very involved with the Los Angeles Youth Network, which helps homeless youth, so it wasn't a lie. You need allies and we thought it'd endear to us.

How have you coped with being one of the season's most hated duos?Tiffany: We were a little more prepared for that than Lance because we have a public image. We have dealt with trash talkers before. We already learned not to pay attention or let those negative words in our brains. Anyone who knows us knows we're good .

How did the Race change you?Maria: Rarely in life do you get the opportunity to push yourself to the limit and see what you're capable of when you put your mind to it. It strengthened our relationship. We wanted to spend more time together after. We didn't want a break. We made bonds that will last a lifetime. The million-dollar prize pales in comparison to what we take away from participating.

Certainly most cannot claim they crashed a car in the parking lot of the Dubai desert. Maria: That was my favorite part. Another racer made me a keychain that says, "Warning: Asian female driver," and it'll be my keychain from here on out. Monty Brinton/CBS

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