– General Introduction –
Maria Ho is a Taiwanese-born American professional poker player, show host and commentator. She was born on March 6th, 1983 in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to the United States with her family at the age of 4. She started off playing Limit Texas Hold’em cash games in California casinos during her college years. Then, she moved on to have great success in live tournaments. She’s known for being “the last woman standing” in three different WSOP events, her highest ITM finish being a 38th place from 2007. She also regularly hosts and commentates on a number of poker shows, including the Heartland Poker Tour, ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP, and NBC Sports’ coverage of the Super High Roller Bowl.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2004: She starts playing cash games at her local land casinos during her college years at UCSD.
- 2007: She comes in 38th in the WSOP Main Event for $237,865 as the last female player in the field.
- 2009: She appears on the CBS reality show The Amazing Race forming a duo with fellow poker player and close friend Tiffany Michelle.
- 2011: She finishes second in the $5,000 NLHE event at the 2011 WSOP for $540,000.
- 2013: She gets hired by the Heartland Poker Tour as a co-host and strategic commentator.
- 2017: She makes the final table at the WSOP Europe Main Event.
– Maria Ho’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Ho got introduced to poker by her college dorm mates at the University of California, San Diego at a private game. According to her, she “won” – not specifying whether it was a cash game or a tournament – which got her enthusiasm up about the game. She started to frequent nearby land casinos where she mainly played Limit Hold’em cash games. After a while she started winning on a consistent basis and could count on poker as a source of income.
That was when Ho decided she wanted to pursue poker as a career after getting her degree in psychology. After graduating in 2005, she travelled to Las Vegas to play at the World Series of Poker where she cashed in one event. Then she went back to California where she was making her living as a professional poker player, unbeknownst to her parents who she knew would disapprove since they were traditional Chinese conservatives.
→ Live Tournaments ←
Maria Ho has $3,271,535 total in live tournament cashes listed on her Hendon page. The total number of her individual cashes is 122 which come from a 14-year-long period.
The first item on her page is a 6th place finish for $2,945 at the $340 buy-in Hollywood Park Casino Poker Derby in January 2005.
In 2011, she was a runner-up at an Aussie Millions mixed game event where she won $69K. She was defeated by Andy Bloch heads-up for the title. She also has a 3rd place finish from the $25K High Roller at the 2018 World Poker Tour LA Classic for which she earned $188,875. In 2017, PokerGO hosted a Christmas-themed 6-handed Sit&Go for $10,000 a seat. Maria Ho won that event, beating none other than Phil Hellmuth heads-up for the $77,000 first prize.
On her 36th birthday she took down the $25K High Roller at the LA Poker Classic for $276,690. This time, she got heads-up with a fellow female poker player, Kristen Bicknell.
→ World Series of Poker ←
Ho became known in the poker world after her deep run at the 2007 WSOP Main Event. Each year, the World Series keeps track of the last woman to bust out of the most prestigious annual poker tournament. They call the odd title “the last woman standing”. In 2007, it was Ho – she came in 38th out of a field 6,358 for $237,865. That achievement earned her a number of sponsorship deals, as she later said in an interview.
She repeated the impressive feat of being the last female player in the Main Event field two more times, in 2011 and 2014. Overall, she has 50 WSOP cashes for a combined $1.6 million. She has no bracelet yet, but she finished 2nd in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event for $540,000 which is her biggest individual live cash to date.
In 2017, she made it all the way to the final table in the WSOP Europe Main Event. Eventually she got knocked out in 6th place and won €174,365.
→ Live Cash Games ←
As we mentioned earlier, that is where the Taiwanese-born lady got her start in poker. As she moved on with her career, she shifted her focus to tournaments instead. Still, she appeared on Poker Night in America numerous times (in 13 episodes total to be exact) playing $25/$50 as well Poker Night Live, the lower stakes live version of PNIA with celebrity guests at the table. She also played cash games on camera on Poker After Dark, the revived classic poker show on PokerGO.
→ Online Poker ←
There’s no online account tied to Maria Ho at all. It seems she was sticking to live poker exclusively during her entire career.
→ Sponsorships ←
In 2013, she was hired by the Heartland Poker Tour to host and do strategic commentary for the 9th season of their program. This is when her prolific career as poker media personality began.
Since then, she commentated on the WSOP Main Event for ESPN, the Super High Roller Bowl for NBC Sports, and on a poker TV show called The Final Table. She was a host at the inaugural season of the high roller series Poker Masters in 2017 and the PCA Poker Championship in 2018.
Before her poker commentator days she appeared on the 15th season of the CBS reality show The Amazing Race. She and her partner, fellow poker player and close personal friend Tiffany Michelle traveled around the world completing miscellaneous challenges for the show while competing against other celebrity duos.
→ Scandals ←
Folding a set
In November 2017 she received heavy criticism online after folding the set of 10’s of hers to an all-in overbet on the flop. Ho was holding the best hand while the aggressor Farrell only had the nut flush draw. Many people in the online poker community felt it was a huge mistake to let three 10’s go on the flop, but Ho ended up going all the way to the final table where she finished 6th.
Her boyfriend going bust with her bankroll
Ho has talked multiple times in interviews about the time she decided to stake her unnamed boyfriend after her WSOP ME breakthrough finish, According to herself, her ex ended up losing her entire bankroll and she was forced to rebuild from scratch. She’s currently dating another cardplayer, the German poker pro Rainer Kempe.