Professional poker player and WinStar World Casino ambassador Maria Ho has been one of the faces of the Heartland Poker Tour for the past two years, serving as a commentator and co-host for the tour. This week, it has been announced that Ho will be leaving the HPT for another venture, as she will be joining David Tuchman in a new project called Poker Night: The Tour.
Poker Night: The Tour is the brainchild of the creators of Poker Night in America, and the new show will be under the watchful eye of Dustin Iannotti, who was named the executive producer.
Poker Night: The Tour plans to focus on life off the felt for players and personalties of the game. "Want to know which players hang out, where they go, and how big they gamble away from the felt? This new program will focus on the unique poker lifestyles away from the tables as much as action in the casino," the press release said.
"I am beyond excited to be a part of this new show that seeks to bring something fresh and innovative that will change the way people enjoy poker on television," Ho said.
Turning Stone Resort in New York will play host to the first broadcast, featuring the Empire State Hold'em Championship that begins on Aug. 7, 2015. After that, the tour will head to Canterbury Card Club in Minnesota at the end of the month.
In light of the announcement, PokerNews spoke with Ho while at the 2015 World Series of Poker.
PokerNews: After over two years, you have decided to part ways with the HPT. It was also announced that you’ll be joining Poker Night: The Tour. Was your decision to leave HPT independent of the opportunity that arose with Poker Night: The Tour?
Ho: Fred Bevill was a big part of why I joined the HPT. I loved his energy and passion for the show and he was integral to me learning the ropes. I flourished because of his mentorship and genuinely enjoyed working alongside him. After he left, it organically felt like a chapter had closed, and when the Poker Night opportunity came up, it seemed like the right timing to move onto something new.
What will you miss most about the HPT?
I really enjoyed my time at HPT and am so appreciative for the opportunity. I learned a lot and grew so much and have met so many awesome people along the way. There are some really good and hard-working people there, from the people in the office to the editors and the road crew, and I will miss our camaraderie. I will also miss all the regulars that play the tour that I have become great friends with and the lovely people and fans of the show that I get to talk to and interact with on all the tour stops. But I hope they will follow me to my next adventure!
What are you most excited about with this new Poker Night: The Tour opportunity?
I'm excited to be a part of something new and innovative and to challenge myself as a broadcaster. I think that poker is such a great game and the only way to bring new fans to the game is to give them a more interesting and immersive experience. I am a big believer that high production values and the willingness to take risks will help us achieve just that. I am also extremely excited to be working with Dave Tuchman and Dustin Iannotti. I have been a huge fan of both of their work for quite some time now and I know that collaborating with them will only help elevate my own set of skills.