On Tuesday, June 26, the Orleans Casino hosted the Women in Poker Hall of Fame (WiPHoF) 2018 Induction Ceremony and Luncheon. The poker community was out in force to recognise poker pro and commentator Maria Ho and industry veteran Lupe Soto, who were voted in as the Class of 2018.

The WiPHoF, established in 2008, recognises women who have contributed to poker, either as a player or on the industry side of things. Only those 35 years of age or older, and who’ve spent a minimum of 10 years in the poker industry, are eligible to be nominated.

The Stars of the Poker World in Attendance

The ceremony was an elegant affair complete with a red carpet, three-course meal, and silent auction. Among those in attendance were poker broadcaster Norman Chad and World Poker Tour President Adam Pliska, as well as former inductees such as Kathy Raymond, Susie Isaacs and Debbie Burkhead. Likewise, Class of 2009 inductee Jan Fisher emceed the event.

Also, there was Linda Johnson, who was not only an inaugural WiPHoF inductee from 2008 but was also welcomed into the Poker Hall of Fame alongside Barry Greenstein in 2011. 

“I definitely think the voters got it right,” Johnson told 888poker, who served as a Gold Sponsor of the event. “Maria, it’s no surprise that she got in her first year eligible. She’s at the top of everything. Lupe has done so much for women in poker. So many women wouldn’t be playing poker today if it wasn’t for those two. They both have the credentials to get in, and I’m really happy for them.”

Surrounded by banners of former inductees, Johnson explained that organisers always go all out for the WiPHoF ceremony.

“It’s always a production,” she said. “Quite frankly we’re very lucky to have Gyla Whitlow, who is the special events coordinator at NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She’s used to putting on big events. Attendees are going to be very impressed with the ceremony.”

Maria Ho Takes the Stage

Maria Ho Inducted into Women In Poker Hall of fame

Maria Ho, who was in her first year of eligibility for the WiPHoF, is one of the most recognisable players in all of poker. She has nearly $2.8 million in lifetime earnings and has finished as the last woman standing in the World Series of Poker Main Event on several occasions. On top of that, she is a TV personality and host/commentator in both the poker and eSport worlds.

After lunch, poker pro, Daniel Negreanu took the stage to introduce Ho, who currently serves as co-host of the WPT’s King of the Club on Fox Sports Net. Instead of focusing on her poker career, Negreanu highlighted her friendship and caring nature. After a round of applause and a hug, Ho headed to the podium to address the crowd.

“Being voted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame is an incredible honour beyond words,” she started. “But having someone like Daniel, that coming into the game I looked up to and inspired to be like; it makes it so much more humbling.”

She continued: “Poker started as an innocent game I took up because who doesn’t want to crash boy’s night in college, especially when they said those three magic words, ‘No Girls Allowed.’ My parents can attest that from a very young age ‘no’ is not a word I accepted … I’m the kind of person who is driven by doing the things people think I can’t do.”

Ho proceeded to thank her parents, who immigrated to the United States when she was just four years old, for instilling in her a strong work ethic.

“The desire to make them proud is ever present at every table I sit down at, every interview I give, I want to reflect the values my parents instilled in me. Integrity and strength of character are at the forefront.”

Ho also thanks her best friend Tiffany Michelle, with whom she competed on the television show The Amazing Race, and then addressed how she often struggled to make poker purposeful.

“I think out impact could be more substantial if we work together and use the resources and flexibility that this game allows us to contribute in both our individual communities and hopefully all around the world,” she said. “Personally, during the next chapter of my career, I hope not only to find ways to give back and find a greater sense of meaning and purpose with my success, but to also rally my peers to do the same.”

Ho received a standing ovation as she exited the stage into the warm embrace of her family and friends.

888poker would like to congratulate the Women in Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2018!

About the Author
Chad Holloway is a 2013 WSOP Bracelet winner who has previously worked for PokerNews as a managing editor and live reporter
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