An Interview with Maria Ho

An Interview with Maria Ho
Dec 22, 2016 NEWS had the great pleasure to sit down with one of the top ranked female poker players in the world, Maria Ho, to learn a bit more about her views on poker and appreciate various aspects of her life.

Maria Ho amassed over 3 million dollars in live & online poker earnings and her record-breaking resume includes 16 final tables and 41 WSOP cashes.

She is a three-time Favorite Female Poker Player nominee, was a WPT ‘Ones to Watch’ featured player (seasons 9 & 10), and in 2016 received an American Poker Award nomination.

Maria is currently the co-host and commentator on The Final Table (CBS Sports), is a Team Manager and player in the inaugural season of the Global Poker League and is also known for appearances on the Emmy-winning television series, The Amazing Race and American Idol.


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What is your view about playing online vs live casinos? Some suggest it is better to get the basics by playing online, however it is hard to read people online.

I enjoy playing both formats. The nice thing about online is that the games go quicker and you can multi-table and maximize the value of your time and ROI. There are also bigger guarantees/prize pools with smaller buy-ins. I do think live is a better way to get a feel for the actual game, since an important aspect of poker is about reading your opponents. There’s something about actual, practical, tangible experience that I think lends itself towards a more well-rounded poker education.

What advice would you give to the players to learn how to read their opponents?

When you sit down at a table PAY ATTENTION. Players give off information with *how they play (style), *what they say (vocal), *how they move (physical) and *how they bet (patterns with bet sizing etc). If you understand your opponent’s tendencies you’ll be better able to notice when they deviate from their norms, i.e. when they have a big hand or are bluffing. Also, trust your instincts!

What are the poker tournaments you plan to join in the first few months of next year?

In January I usually play PCA Bahamas (in the Bahamas) or Aussie Millions (at the Crown Casino in Melbourne). In February I play WPT’s LA Poker Classic in my backyard of Los Angeles, and in March I never miss the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star (in Northern California), which I final tabled last year… so of course I have to go back and test my luck this year!

Do you play other casino games apart from poker and if so what games do you like to play?

Not really. I prefer games that I have an edge in and a likely ROI… but occasionally I’ll sit down and play blackjack for fun.


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Can you think of any other games in general that may help in poker skills training?

A lot of people link poker to chess – moves, countermoves, thinking multiple steps ahead, getting in your opponents head and predicting what their next move is.

What advice would you give to women who want to start playing poker?

Find, or start, a home game with friends (invite women AND men) and start gaining practical experience at the table, in a comfortable environment. You can read all the books you want (which I definitely recommend; understanding the fundamentals, mathematics and more advanced strategies of the game), but hands-on learning and being physically comfortable with the rhythm of the game - which doesn’t entirely make book-sense until you’ve sat down and played a few orbits of hands, blinds, pots etc. – is essential.

Are there any real friends in professional poker world? Do you believe there can be genuine friendships and how could that affect the game?

There are definitely real friendships in poker. A few of my closest and most trusted, life-long friends I met through the industry. Poker is such an uncommon career that there is a camaraderie that comes when someone understands what you do for a living and shares a similar lifestyle. Plus, on the poker circuit you end up spending a lot of time (at casinos, hotels, overseas) with the same people, so friendships naturally blossom because other poker players are who you primarily spend your time with.

When you end up at a table or in a tournament playing against someone who is a good friend, usually you try to avoid going after each other, but we all understand that there can only be one winner and we’re each there to play our best game. Sometimes that means knocking out a friend. But, the silver lining is that if you have to get knocked out and give your chips to anyone, you’d rather have it be a friend (and then root them on) than to a total stranger. It’s a weird Catch 22.

How much of poker success, in your view, is talent, practice, skill and luck?

It’s significantly practice and skill… and I think those things often breed talent (granted, every once in a while there is a player with an x-factor and inexplicable talent for reading opponents or un-abandoned aggression). Yes, there is an amount of luck in the game of poker, but you can’t string together a 5+ year career just by being lucky.


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Do you support any particular charity?

There are several charities that I support, and I do my part locally in Los Angeles as a volunteer with L.A. Works.

Which win and also which loss is the one you remember the most and why?

I think my most memorable win is when I finished 2nd a WSOP 5k event, for $540,000. Being that close to winning a bracelet was not only extremely exciting and something all poker pros aspire to, but it provided me with invaluable experience that I was able to take forward, even though I lost. I guess it was actually also my most memorable loss, which only in poker can your most memorable win and loss be from the same event!!!


Meet Maria in person at the PCA Bahamas or the Aussie Millions in January, or one of the other live events she will join during 2017. For more information on Maria, visit