Femmeonfelt is winner on felt Maria Ho
A great many big poker scores and accomplishments happen on Sundays. And PokerStars is known for being the home of a majority of those big wins. It is no surprise, then, that one will often see Maria Ho, known virtually as "Femmeonfelt," in those Sunday majors.
And if you tuned in to the famous Sunday 500 tournament on February 16, you saw her take down the $500 buy-in tournament for $80,370. The final table included players like Nicolas "niccc" Chouity, but it was Femmeonfelt who soared into the winner's circle. No deal. Just a win.
"It felt great," Maria told PokerStars Women. "Now that I've relocated to Vancouver, I've been playing online a lot more, and as everyone knows, it's quite a grind! A win always helps boost your confidence and reboot your system after a string of deep runs, cashes, "almosts" and final tables."
This wasn't just any win, either. It was Maria's highest online tournament payout thus far, second to the 2011 WCOOP Event 61. That was a $10K 8-Game tournament, and she had competition at the final table like Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Eugene Katchalov. Maria finished sixth for $38,500, so her recent Sunday 500 win trumped that amount by a significant margin.
Maria began playing online poker in 2008, but she has always primarily been a live poker player. She has more than $1.5 million earnings in live tournaments to date, but she has also accumulated more than $600K in online tournament earnings as well. She plays similarly high buy-ins online, as she does live, though she will play almost all of the events during a series on PokerStars like WCOOP or SCOOP. "I will still jump into the mid-stakes mix cash game action on Stars (sometimes), but I am mostly focusing on tournaments right now."
Busy doesn't begin to describe Maria's current career schedule. In addition to playing online poker in Vancouver and traveling around the continent to play live tournaments, she represents WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma as an ambassador and works as the TV final table strategic commentator for the Heartland Poker Tour in the United States.
When she has an occasional "down month," as she calls it, she spends a good deal of time in Vancouver focusing on improving her online game. She also notes that she has played more online poker than live in the past year. "I think I might be becoming one of those 'I'm gonna needa try to get home for Poker Sunday' kind of players."
And sometimes, she plays alongside guests in her home or at friends' online poker abodes. That helps Maria's game as well. "It's great being able to get another's perspective on a particular hand or situation. It definitely adds to the strength of your own game." Even so, a session of online poker is mostly a solitary endeavor, no matter if other skilled players are in the same room or not.
Unlike other players, though, she keeps her focus by playing six tables or less at one time. "I'm no Nanonoko!" Maria said. And she chooses her tournaments carefully. "I am a big value seeker in tournaments, and on a Sunday, there are so many big guaranteed prize pools that I try to only play the ones that have the best value."
Most often, that doesn't include the women-only events like the Women's Sunday, but she doesn't hesitate to say that she supports it. "I think it is great to advocate for more women to play poker," she added.
Value was just what she found in the Sunday 500 in February, though. Maria remembers that she was the eighth shortest stack in the tournament at 10 spots away from the money. "I was stalling, looking for a spot to double and hoping to barely make it into a min cash. I was grinding a 15-big-blind stack from almost 100 players left down to about 36 or so, and then I won a few standard but very key flips. Then I was first out of 10 on the final table bubble and fought really hard. I played tough to keep my chip position almost wire to wire."
She celebrated her win with friends, and then Maria was off to Los Angeles for live poker action. As one of Chris Moorman's friends, she railed his victory at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic and headed up to Northern California for a winery trip and Bay 101 poker. She knows the importance of making time for family and friends when her schedule permits.
And 2014 is just beginning. "It's still early in the year," Maria said. "We'll see what 2014 has in store for me!"
Watch for Femmeonfelt on the PokerStars tables, as winning is clearly on top of the year's agenda.
Jennifer Newell is a PokerStars freelance contributor.