She’s made over $1 million playing live poker tournaments, she’s a successful cash game pro, she’s had multiple endorsement deals and she was a contestant on the hit TV show The Amazing Race.
After coming second in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the World Series of poker just a few days ago, she now also holds the record for the single biggest score by a woman at the US WSOP.
Pocketing over $540,000 and narrowly missing her first bracelet, she’s been on a heater that doesn’t show any signs of cooling down.
“I always have high expectations for the World Series but this year felt different,” Ho told PokerListings.com, reflecting on her biggest score to date.
“In the last seven months I’ve made three final tables in pretty major events so I came into this WSOP with my confidence at an all-time high,” she continued.
“I felt like I was unstoppable.” - Maria Ho
The results she refers to are a second-place finish in the $10k Eight-Game event at the Aussie Millions, good for $70,000, and a sixth at the WSOP Circuit event in South Africa that earned her over $43,000.
All told she’s now cashed at the WSOP nine times, with her best pre-2011 result being a deep run in the Main Event in 2007 that earned her $237,000.
But Ho isn’t going to sit back now that she’s had a big score this summer. Quite the opposite in fact.
“After I took second place I was back playing the next day at noon and I was playing with this confidence that I’ve never had before,” she said.
“I felt like I was unstoppable.”
But as good as a second-place finish and more than half a million dollars is, it’s not a WSOP bracelet.
In the poker world all too often we see runners-up forgotten, and one-time winners celebrated. But for Ho, who’s been making a living playing poker for six years, a player’s career still isn’t validated by a single victory.
“Whether or not I have that bracelet on my wrist I think I’ve done a lot of things in poker I can be proud of,” she said.
Maria Ho and her Amazing Race entourage at Meghan and Cheyne's wedding.
“When you play a lot you see the WSOP bracelet being put on this pedestal but I feel like my poker resume speaks for itself.
“Through all the ups and downs in the poker world I’ve managed to stay in the game and I’ve still got a long career to look forward to.”
And when Maria talks about potential and the longevity of her career, it applies to more than just poker.
As a contestant on Seaosn 15 of The Amazing Race she competed alongside teammate and close friend Tiffany Michelle.
When the show made plans for an all-star season titled “Unfinished Business,” many expected Ho and Michelle to be asked back.
“It’s funny, contrary to a lot of rumors that were flying around we were never asked back for the all-star season,” Maria told us.
“It was kind of a weird situation because the way we were eliminated from the show definitely qualified as unfinished business.”
But Ho is hopeful about her chances of getting a shot at redemption.
“There might be future all-star seasons and we’d really look forward to being a part of that,” she said.
Despite their early elimination from the show Ho took a lot away from her reality-TV experience, including lasting relationships with some of her fellow contestants.
“Tiffany and I became so close with the couple that won the race, Meghan and Cheyne, and Dan and Sam, the brothers, and Brian and Ericka, Miss America and her husband,” she told us.
“After the race was over we all got the same tattoo, the Japanese symbols for the first destination we went to in Japan.”
“And actually Meghan and Cheyne just got married three weeks ago and we were all in their wedding party.”