It probably comes as no surprise to you that I love talking with other luxury travelers–I love adding destinations, hotels and restaurants to my lists of places to see! So when I was given the chance to chat with the brilliant Maria Ho, who just took this year’s 2014 World Series of Poker “Last Woman Standing” title (77 out of 6,683) and is also the most-cashing female at the world’s top poker event currently airing on ESPN (Sunday’s @ 9:00pm)–you know I was overjoyed! High Rollers are, well, high rollers! She plays hard and stays hard–meaning at some of the best luxury hotels in the world!
Maria is currently ranked in the top 3 of the best female poker players in the world, to date having won over $1.6 million dollars in her whirlwind career. She is also working on her second season as the very first female strategic host for the Heartland Poker Tour. Maria also appeared on The Amazing Race (don’t forget to check out our interview with former winner, Cindy Chiang)
Born in Taiwan, Maria moved to LA with her parents and sister at the age of 4. She attended the University of California at San Diego and received a degree in communication studies and a minor in law. It was then that she picked up poker–and the rest is history! When Maria isn’t beating the boys at the poker table, she enjoys performing music and traveling the world. Here is what she had to say in this fab one-on-one interview!
Travel is obviously part of the job for tournaments; do you have a favorite airline? Why?
Southwest is pretty great when it comes to traveling in the U.S. – lots of flight options/times, free cancellations, companion flights, and a great reward system. I also like Virgin, because they have a sexy interior and cool music. It kind of feels like a nightclub in the air!
Where is your favorite travel destination that your work has brought you to?
I’ve been to so many great places, but Melbourne, Australia has a special place in my heart. Some of the best trips I’ve ever experienced have been to/in Australia. The men there are gorgeous, the people are so nice and laid back (I love the Aussie accent), the weather is great and there are lots of things to do (activities, restaurants, shopping). Plus, getting up close and personal with a kangaroo or koala is priceless! I usually stay at the Crown Casino and they take such good care of me there. It’s a beautiful property with gorgeous views and impeccable restaurants.
Where is your least favorite destination?
In contrast to some of the exotic or tropical overseas destinations I’ve enjoyed, I must say that traveling to the Mid-West can be pretty brutal. I often have to travel to Fargo, North Dakota and there are no direct flights from LA. Plus, it gets rrrreally cold there… and I hate the cold. So, between the weather and a layover flight, Fargo isn’t my favorite.
Any funny travel stories you’re willing to share?
Hmmm, I can’t think of anything super funny off the top of my head, but one time I took eight different flights over a two week period and my bag got lost six out of the eight flights. In hindsight that’s pretty funny, at the time however, it wasn’t.
That is funny, but I can see how it wasn’t at the time. Sorry to laugh. What is your favorite luxury hotel?
I like the W Hotel chain. I especially enjoy the W Hotel in Miami (South Beach). It’s in a great location and their suites are super sexy, with excellent views… and it’s just steps away from the beach.
Favorite budget hotel?
I’ve stayed at several Hampton Inns (if that counts as “budget”) all over and I’ve always enjoyed good service, clean properties and rooms… and free breakfast is always a perk!
You’re a pro, so where is your favorite casino?
I’m biased to the WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma since I have been going there for its River Poker series every year for the last five years straight. It’s different than any other casino I’ve been to (because of the different country themes for each part of the casino) and you never have to leave the property. In Vegas I’d say Aria or Cosmopolitan. They both have a young and sexy clientele, trendy and luxurious décor, are steps away from the best shopping and they both have a bevy of some of the world’s best restaurants. Also, the Cosmo rooms have excellent views of the strip and the Bellagio fountains.
Where is your favorite high roller’s lounge?
Wynn and Bellagio have very luxurious lounges.
Favorite cocktail? Any special place?
I love Lychee Martinis… so you’ll find me anywhere that has one on the menu! Andreas at Encore in Las Vegas has a delicious, diverse and colorful cocktail menu. You get to scroll through the menu and order on an iPad, which is fun. Outside of Vegas, I just had a great experience at the Andaz in Maui. Archer and Travis, the bartenders at the hotel specialize in original and unique cocktails. You just tell them what flavors and spirits you like and they’ll whip you up something different and delicious for each round, morning noon or night. Every single drink was amazing!