Maria Ho’s poker story is one of how the black sheep of a traditional chinese family went against her parents and took a gamble on her passion. It’s the story of how a young role model won the heart of the poker industry and became a female ambassador of the game. This is the amazing poker story of Maria Ho.

Early life

Maria Ho was born on the 6th of March, 1983. She lived with her mom, dad and older sister  in the city of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. These were hard times in Taiwan, and her parents were struggling, just as their parents had struggled.
Wanting a better life for their two daughters, Ho’s mom and dad moved to America when she was just four years old. They bounced around for a while before settling down just outside of Los Angeles in Arcadia, California.

Maria Ho

Ho’s parents wanted their two daughters to remember where they came from and so the family only spoke Mandarin at home and the girls had to learn traditional chinese instruments, dances and more. In general, Maria’s childhood home was very traditional chinese with structure and order – something that was starting to irritate the young, rebellious ‘black sheep’ of the family. 

In middle school, Maria Ho began hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble for no real reason. Her parents often had to come get her at the principal’s office – and even at the police station one time. When Ho topped it all by running away from home for a month, her parents decided to send her to an all girls catholic high school.
Surrounded by nothing but nuns, Ho was finally able to focus on her school and homework – and in a later interview she said that without this she probably wouldn’t have graduated highschool. 

Poker beginnings

With her life back on the right track, Maria Ho went to college. She attended the University of California San Diego where she studied psychology, wanting to go on to medical school.
One day she heard some of her male friends talking about hosting a poker night and sort of invited herself. She showed up that night, bringing beer, and was of course allowed in.
This being her first ever game of poker, she had little clue what she was doing. But she still managed to win the game and walked away with all the money – and a feeling of having found a new love. She was hooked. 

Maria kept playing with friends on campus, and on days when classes ended early, she would go down to the nearby indian casino and sharpen her skills. She played for just the fun of it but as the prize money started piling up, she had the feeling that this could be more than just a lucrative pastime. 

She didn’t dare tell her parents though, since traditional chinese culture expects you to take the secure path and utilize the opportunities your family has put out for you – not take a gamble. After finally getting her life back on track in the eyes of her family, she was afraid they wouldn’t approve her new plans.
She wanted to finish college and planned to maybe take a gap year between undergrad and grad school where she could travel the world playing poker and having fun.
First stop after graduating would be the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas.


Maria Ho’s first appearance at the WSOP was not a huge success. Beating her college friends was one thing, but it seemed WSOP was still too big a mouthful for her.
So she went back to Los Angeles to sharpen her skills. 

Her parents still wanted her to finish her degree and when they asked her what she was going to do for money she finally came clean and told them how she’d been making good money playing poker. This allowed Ho to focus on playing poker and as her skills improved she became more and more convinced that this was the path for her. 

After a year and a half of playing poker professionally, Maria went back to WSOP in 2007.

Maria Ho

The WSOP breakthrough

This time Maria did very well, outlasting more than 6000 players. Though she didn’t quite reach the final table, she was the last woman standing and ended up caching over a quarter million dollars! And the respect and attention of the poker world. Suddenly everyone was talking about the new female phenomenon of poker – and Ho thought it was time to tell her parents that she wanted to pursue a career in poker. 

Her parents, however, thought it would be better for her to put the prize money into a savings account and continue her degree, quitting poker while being ahead. Luckily though, more people than her parents weighed in on her decision, with multiple poker sponsorships coming at her.

Maria Ho & Tiffany Michelle

Maria Ho kept playing and learning, and in the summer of 2011 she won her second ‘Last Woman Standing’ at the WSOP main event. She was quickly solidifying her place among the top female poker players of the world. On this prominent list we also find another rising star, Tiffany Michelle, who won ‘Last Woman Standing’ the year after.
The two really hit it off and became best friends – and the absolute female power couple on the poker scene. 

Although participating in many of the same tournaments, and both competing for the role of ‘Last Female Standing’, the two formed a strong friendship and would lean on each other through everything.
Quite a dynamic duo. 

In an industry heavily occupied by men, this was exactly what Ho had been wishing for. 

The duo also teamed up to participate in CBS’ show called “The Amazing Race” where teams of two reace around the world in 30 days with a first prize of one million dollars.
Ho and Michelle didn’t win the race, but the appearance alone helped further their brand in a big way, and Maria later said that this was the  best experience she’d ever had.
She would later appear in other popular TV shows such as American Idol and Deal or No Deal.

Maria Ho

The Amazing Race proved to Maria Ho that she could do anything she wanted and was able to feel comfortable well outside her comfort zone. At this time, Ho had been the last woman standing at 3 WSOPs and was now the top female ambassador to the game she once had to hide from her parents. Because of this, she was asked to be a female strategic analyst on the Heartland Poker Tour – an American TV show that first aired back in 2005.
She stayed on HPT for two seasons and really enjoyed the possibility of branching out.
Something she also had a change to do when asked to be the manager of ‘LA Sunset’ – a Los Angeles based team competing in the ‘Global Poker League’. According to interviews, Ho liked the idea of poker being more of a team sport and wanted to create a team that was as much of a melting pot as the city of LA. 

Female Poker Ambassador

Maria Ho is obviously a terrific poker player and a very intelligent person, but people who know her also say she’s truly a great person. Her friendly and very charismatic person has gotten a huge following and is probably what led to her branching out into media.
We’re all glad she chose to pursue a career in poker, but it seems Maria Ho would have been extremely successful in any job and industry. With her hard work and kind soul she’s truly a great ambassador for poker, and a role model for young players – both male and female. 

According to online sources, Maria Ho has won over $4,000,0000 playing poker in live tournaments. 

Maria Ho

Are you the next Maria Ho?

Maria Ho went against the wishes of her parents and took a gamble on herself – a gamble that took her from black sheep to multi millionaire poker icon and role model. And it all began when she invited herself to a friendly poker night in a college dorm room. 

Maybe you and your friends should test your skills as well, and for this we recommend using the free EasyPoker app. By far the easiest way to play poker with friends – no chips or playing cards needed. 

Create a private poker table with a single tap on your screen and share its 4 digit game code with your friends to have them join the table for hours of fun.
Whether live or online, EasyPoker is perfect for poker with friends. 

Maria Ho
Maria Ho

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A crazy story of how ‘Kid Poker’ went from highschool dropout to being one of the most beloved and successful poker players of all time. 
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Doyle Brunson