The Heartland Poker Tour has been making waves for eight seasons now and on Monday they announced another one. For the first time in poker history a female will join the broadcast team as an analyst. Maria Ho joins Fred Bevill behind the desk to offer analysis and insight at each final table.
“I am thrilled to be joining the HPT family,” Ho said. “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 a strategist position to a female.”
“There’s not that many opportunities for women to step out of a hosting role in poker,” said Ho. “I’m really looking forward to be the first woman that offers that in terms of poker programming.”
Ho is best known to mainstream audiences by her crossover appeal when she appeared on “The Amazing Race.” But serious television work is something Ho is excited about, “Throughout my poker career I’ve always made it a point to diversify and do things both in and out of poker. More than just sitting at a table playing; most people don’t know I graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in Communications.”
“Broadcast journalism was an interest for me before poker, but it wasn’t something I thought I could segue into from poker,” Ho said. “I have a good idea what the general poker viewing audience wants. I can bridge that gap between people who are recreational players looking to get better and the poker professional that wants to watch programming that has a little more substance to it.”
“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. Other poker shows have hired women to appear on camera, but never as a resident expert of the game.”
Mastrud isn’t the only HPT executive excited about Ho’s arrival. Bevill said, who also works as Executive Producer, “She has a presence on camera. She’ll get the respect of the TV audience and add some glamour to the show.”
Ho replaces Chris Hanson who has left the tour to pursue other opportunities.
In addition to adding Ho to the broadcast team, the HPT is improving the overall product for the upcoming year. “There’s so many changes, both big and small, and they’re really going to rev up this new season,” Ho said. “They already had a great poker show with a lot of loyal fans, but they have a new set this year, they’re adding some new locations. They’re trying to branch out and expand their demographic a bit.”