Maria Ho to Join HPT Broadcasts in 2013

Pro Player Becomes First Female Commentator in Poker

Fargo, ND (December 10, 2012) – For the first time since its inception in 2005, Heartland Poker Tour will welcome a new face to its broadcast team, but it’s a familiar one.  Pro player Maria Ho will join commentator Fred Bevill at the broadcast desk in Season 9 and crisscross the country with the HPT team. The role is the first of its kind for a woman in the poker industry.

“I am thrilled to be joining the HPT family,” said Maria. “As a player, I am flattered they are welcoming my poker expertise.  As a woman, I am grateful to HPT for being the first poker show to offer this strategist position to a female.  I look forward to bringing a new and fresh perspective to HPT broadcasts.

Maria’s knowledge of the game, media experience, and familiarity with HPT made her the top pick. “There is no better candidate than Maria,” said HPT Director of Operations Jen Mastrud. “As a winning player, she has a lot to offer in her analysis.”  With over a million dollars in live tournament earnings and consistent results, Maria is one of the most respected and recognized women in the game.  Her live results include 18 World Series of Poker cashes, two WSOP Final Tables, three World Poker Tour cashes, an Aussie Millions Final Table, and a WPT Final Table.  Maria is currently ranked third in the world among female poker players according to the Bluff Magazine Power Rankings.  

Other poker shows have hired women to appear on camera, but never as a resident expert of the game, said Mastrud.  Maria is no stranger to breaking through glass ceilings in the industry.  She is one of few women to successfully play in high stakes cash games across the globe.  In 2011, Maria broke records for the largest cash by a woman at the World Series when she played heads-up for a WSOP bracelet, earning $540,020 for her second-place Final Table finish. In 2012, she had the most cashes for a female at the WSOP, with six individual tournament cashes, including the Main Event. She is also the first and only player to ever hold the title Last Woman Standing at both the WSOP and WSOP Europe Main Events. She famously earned her first Last Woman Standing title at the 2007 WSOP Main Event for finishing 38th out of 6,358 entrants. 

Maria’s familiarity with HPT’s loyal following across the country was also a factor in the selection process, said Mastrud.  Maria has played HPT events in Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada.  “She’s already part of the family,” said Mastrud, “She bellies up to the bar and fits right in.” 

Emerging as one of the most popular players of the game, Maria has been sought after throughout her seven-year career in poker.  She is a Celebrity Spokesperson for WinStar World Casino and is widely recognized for competing on the Emmy award-winning season of The Amazing Race.  Maria’s experience on camera helped to land her the job, said Fred Bevill, who produces the show in addition to providing commentary.  She’s also appeared on shows such as American Idol and Anderson Cooper 360.  “She has a presence on camera,” said Bevill. “She’ll get the respect of the TV audience and add some glamour to the show.” With HPT’s national television syndication, Maria will become one of the most exposed poker players in the world.  The show is available to over 100 million U.S. households each week and airs 365 days a year.  HPT plans to expand distribution of the show abroad in 2013.

The addition of Maria is just one of many upgrades planned for Season 9, said Bevill.  Chris Hanson’s departure from the show created the opportunity for Maria as HPT prepares for its biggest year yet.  “Maria joins us at a perfect time as we step up our show and tour,” he said.  HPT will launch its ninth season in January by televising an event on a weeklong Card Player Cruise.  Dates in 2013 for some of HPT’s most popular stops are already posted at HPTpoker.com.

“I love what HPT is about,” said Maria, “providing lower buy-in, big-value TV tournaments to the average poker enthusiast.  I’m excited to travel the country as part of Season 9, discovering new poker talent and watching dreams come true.”

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