What do you get if you cross an NFL superstar, an award-winning content creator and the winner of Game of Gold? A show full of fun was the answer as Maria Ho took down the latest and third Celebrity Poker Tour title. Fulfilling an incredible coincidence – or yet more evidence that female poker players are often the best poker players – Ho was the third consecutive female winner in the series, following previous successes for Princess Love, who won the PGT Invitational II in February and Qiyu ‘Nemo’ Zhou, who won the inaugural CPT event in 2023.

Unold Comes Off the Bench

With each player having a 100,000 starting stack, 20-minute levels made the action move along fast as players including Tommy Unold, Bryce Hall and Ethan ‘Rampage Yau battled for the CPT Championship belt. Unold had been an ‘alternate’ but waiting for his chance, watched on as Ekeler, Owen and Hall all participated in a dramatic early hand.

Ekeler’s ace-nine of hearts, Hall’s offsuit three-four and Owen’s pocket threes had varying degrees of success on the rainbow 6-5-2 flop, with Hall flopping the nut straight. Ekeler kept firing on the jack turn and Hall won a big pot.

Soon after, Yau was on the rail. Committing his stack with pocket sevens on a flop of K-Q-7, Yau was smashed to pieces by Ekeler’s pocket queens which had – appropriately for his position on the football field – run even better. Unold took his seat and got involved soon after, although his improvement at the table was not replicated by his friend, Bryce Hall. Hall – always one for a wild ride, as a bare-knuckle boxer – shoved when short with seven-deuce offsuit and Ho made the call with pocket sixes, a board of 9-4-3-Q-A sent him home.

Owen Can’t Makes Late Stages

A huge hand took place soon after which sent two players to the rail and further enhanced Maria Ho’s chances in the scrap for silverware in the invitational event and the $10,000 top prize. Three-way to the river on a board showing K-7-6-6-T, Trent Attyah, also known as ‘Book it With Trent’ somehow managed to get away from Ho’s raise. Attyah folded king-ten for two pair, having called Wolfgang’s bet of 35,000 chips with nine-eight for a rivered straight. By that point in the hand, however, both players were dead, with Ho having turned a full house with seven-six. Wolfgang couldn’t get away and he left the action.

Brad Owen has carved out a reputation for being one of the best cash games players in the United States as well as one of the most personable. His legendary Meet Up Games have brought thousands and thousands of poker players together across the heartland of America’s casinos. He’d lost most of his stack when he got it all-in with jack-seven against Ho’s jack-nine. A flop of A-4-3 was followed by another ace on the turn, with a five on the river not enough to save Owen’s tournament life.

With three players remaining, Ekeler had taken over from Ho at the top of the charts, with 750,000 chips to Ho’s 350,000 and Unold’s 550,000. Ho got lucky when she shoved with queen-nine only to be called by Unold’s ace-nine. The board ran out queen-high to double up Ho and hit Unold’s stack hard.

Unold Folds in Second

“Today, I guess I was just one step ahead.” ~ Maria Ho, Celebrity Poker Tour champion.

Ekeler led but not for long. Falling behind Ho, he made the unwise move of shoving all-in pre-flop with king-six offsuit with the six of spades when Ho held ace-king on a board of K-9-2-T with three spades.

“You have a flush draw? A pair?” she asked.

“It might not be good this time.” Ekeler said.

The Game of Gold champion took her time but made the call and Ho held, a queen of clubs on the river sending Ekeler from the felt. Any two hands in No Limit Hold’em can kill you, as the old adage goesm and they did for Ekeler. That put both players in the money, with Ekeler bubbling the event and Ho holding a close to 3:1 chip lead.

As the CPT Belt was placed onto the table, heads-up began. Soon, it was all over. Ho held pocket threes and shoved pre-flop with roughly the same lead. Unold declared ‘Let’s gamble!’ and called with queen-nine. It was a flip to take the lead for Unold, but Ho was going for the win and with a 51% chance, the flop of 6-4-3 gave her a set. Only a runner-runner straight would preserve Unold’s tournament life. A five on the turn gave him eight outs to the river but the TikTok legend saw a six land on the river and Maria Ho had a full house and the title-winning belt. Unold collected $5,000 in second place, with Ho claiming double that amount to win yet again inside the PokerGO Studio.

“A lot of people say I’m a really tight poker player,” Unold told reporters after the final hand. “I just like to play the cards right, and they don’t like that.”

“It was a lot of fun!” Maria Ho declared when asked about her night. “At one point it was looking dicey for me, I was going to let down everyone who bet on me, but I came through. It’s interesting to play against people that are going to keep you on your toes a little bit. Today, I guess I was just one step ahead.”

You can watch all the action in a full replay on PokerGO right here if you’re a subscriber.

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Paul seaton


Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He’s not just a spectator; he’s been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul’s poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he’s interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton’s expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide. 

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