There are few professional poker players busier than Maria Ho.
It’s a given that she plays poker for a living, both cash games and tournaments. She is also a poker coach, commentator for a show called The Final Table set to air on CBS Sports this summer, host of a Poker Central live poker show on Twitch, spokesperson for WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma, and host of the annual Battle of Malta tournament series. And just weeks ago, she made the final table of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event and finished sixth for nearly $180K. In her spare time, she sings and performs, works with her family’s real estate business, and participates in numerous charitable tournaments and fundraisers.
Ho lives in Los Angeles, flies to Las Vegas for work, any city with a live tournament to play, Vancouver to play online poker, and somehow always lands on her feet.
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And now, Ho is the manager of the Los Angeles Sunset, a Global Poker League team preparing for its Season 1 debut. She participated in the GPL Draft Day in February to choose her first four team members, then weighed her options for two wild card picks, all while preparing and readying her team for the first online poker matches set to take place this week.
Her picks during the GPL draft – Fedor Holz, Olivier Busquet, Eugene Katchalov, and Chance Kornuth – put her at or near the top of most poker fans’ list for teams most likely to make it to the finals. Ho has a star-studded poker team, and her tireless efforts to thrive in everything she does.
All the while, Ho took the time to answer a few of our questions about the GPL. We don’t know how she does it all, but we’re glad she does!
PokerUpdate: What was your plan going into GPL Draft Day?
Maria: I did a LOT of research and really tried to think outside of the box. It was hard because I’ve been in this industry for so long, and I know just how many talented players there are who would love to be a part of the GPL. It was difficult to put aside personal bias and focus on how to create the best and most well-rounded team, but I really took my role as team manager seriously and wanted to make the best decision for my team as a whole. There were so many factors to consider, and going into Draft Day, my plan was to put on my best managerial hat and form a team that would not only shine in this league format but that would help bring about a great and exciting inaugural season of the GPL.
PokerUpdate: Did your selection process go smoothly or did you hit a stumbling block along the way?
Maria: I think it went pretty smooth. The other team managers, for the most part, did what I expected of them. There were only a couple surprising picks by the other teams, here and there, and nothing that affected the result of my draft too strongly. I feel like I got what I came for and feel very confident about how my team will fare against the competition.
PokerUpdate: What are your team’s greatest strengths?
Maria: I wanted to bring together a strong, winning team – one with a diverse range of talent, age, skill and marketability. I love that we have some “young guns,” a tried-and-true “veteran,” some big personalities, as well as some quiet consistency. I think we have every base covered and that each personality type and skill set will meld well together. Plus, in total, the team has almost $30 million in winnings, and each of these guys has something special that they bring to our industry. THAT, to me, is the epitome of strength.
PokerUpdate: Have you already chosen your wild cards? Or are you still considering options? (Any hints about your choices are welcome. Ha.)
Maria: I have a pretty good idea about who my wild cards will be. I started out entertaining a variety of options based on the team I already have. There are so many routes I can go with the wild cards, but I’m trying to think of every facet and how that will play into creating a stronger and more exciting team.
PokerUpdate: How do you feel about being a team manager?
Maria: I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity. I’m always on board to support new poker endeavors and to help broaden this game that I love to a more mainstream audience. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a challenge – a chance to push myself in new ways. Personally, I’m really looking forward to it, and professionally, I’m excited for a chance to show a different side of who Maria Ho is and what she brings to the table. (Pun intended – and no, that isn’t a hint as to whether or not I, myself, will be a wild card pick. *wink*)
PokerUpdate: What are your goals as the team’s manager?
Maria: My goal as the team’s manager is to always put what’s best for the team first, ahead of anything else. I want to strike a balance between taking into consideration every team member’s opinion on matters while still being a strong and solid leader they can rely on. Another very important goal of mine is to make sure that I’m creating an atmosphere and a dynamic for and within my team that will make this a positive experience for everyone involved – win or lose.
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PokerUpdate: Do you feel prepared for the GPL to begin? What are you looking forward to the most?
Maria: I feel as prepared as one could possibly be when entering into unchartered territory. I am very confident in my abilities to manage this team and to stay organized and on top of everything that comes my way throughout this process. I’m looking most forward to seeing how the GPL will continue to grow and gain traction after the season gets underway.
PokerUpdate: What are your hopes for the GPL?
Maria: Since Black Friday, I think that poker has needed something to revive it and bring back that Moneymaker effect level of excitement. In the States, we were all so defeated by having the game we love ripped out of our homes and hands. I think the fans and players are hungry for a poker resurrection and for more platforms to consume the game. E-sports are so popular right now and are a great way to engage an audience. I hope that the GPL will give current fans something to cheer for, rekindling their love for poker and its players… as well as bring new fans to the game.