PEP TALK: Maria Ho Adds Her Voice to Virtual Coaching and Speaking Startup 

Sean Chaffin August 7, 2020
Maria Ho has joined the PepTalk startup coaching platform.

When it comes to being on camera, Maria Ho is a pro – whether at a World Poker Tour final table or working for ESPN or PokerGO. The poker player is now embracing a new role as coach and speaker that may find her reaching out to others via video technology.

Ho is one of several poker pros joining the new PepTalk startup. The company is a live video coaching and speaking platform.

Customers can use a computer or mobile device to connect with real-world experts. PepTalk launched this month with 200 coaches and speakers including entrepreneurs, writers, authors, adventurers, athletes, and more.

Ho spoke with USPoker about her new role with the company.

What is PepTalk and how does it work?

PepTalk is a web-based platform built for a modern remote workforce. Individuals and corporate teams to book a session directly with a coach or speaker.

As a speaker, Ho hopes to mentor others based on her own work on the poker felt and in the broadcast booth. With more than $4 million in live tournament winnings, she brings plenty of experiences to build on.

Ho is a communications graduate from the University of California-San Diego. After establishing a successful poker career, Ho also began putting her skills and degree to use as a broadcaster.

The merging of those two careers offers some unique angles to approach her PepTalk role.

“The idea behind PepTalk is that the coaches come from a place of personal experience that they would like to share with others,” she says. “It’s a way to take what I’ve learned from my experience as a poker pro and as a broadcaster, and pass them on in a way that could be relevant and helpful to others.”

Words of wisdom from a life in poker

For Ho, working with young women working to build a career is a meaningful part of that effort. She hopes some of her own success can serve as motivation. Those seeking a career in media might also benefit from some words of wisdom.

“I’m excited to work with people who are striving to handle pressure that comes with being a poker pro,” she says. “Or young women who are putting together a career plan and need inspiration and encouragement, or people who are interested in honing their presentation skills and what it takes to succeed in broadcasting.”

Maria Ho (photo courtesy PokerStars)

When speaking, Ho takes a holistic point of view to reaching those she mentors. She tries to be encouraging – including with those needing some help with their poker game

“I believe cultivating a strong mindset is just as important as learning a specific strategy,” she says.

Beyond poker, Ho believes her advice and motivation apply to much more than poker. Users can even tailor advice or mentorship to meet their own needs or situation.

“PepTalk can be utilized in a way where we can discuss general principles, motivation, and inspiration rather than specific roles necessarily,” she says. “I’m there to chat with PepTalk users about what they need, to encourage them to move forward in living successful, healthy, well-balanced lives.”

PepTalk’s stable of poker stars

Successful poker players have many qualities that carry over to other walks of life. From patience and focus to goal setting and determination, these are some of the qualities PepTalk hopes to convey to others.

The company has gathered a roster of some of the most recognizable names in poker including:

  • Fedor Holz – GGPoker ambassador with $33 million in live tournament winnings
  • Liv Boeree – $3.9 million in tournament winnings; WSOP and EPT titles
  • Jamie Gold – 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event winner
  • Maria Konnikova – author, poker player, and former PokerStars ambassador
  • Joe Stapleton – poker player, commentator, and comedian 
  • Jennifer Shahade – Pennsylvania-based poker player and PokerStars ambassador

Learners will find ease of use a major plus, Ho says. The platform is completely virtual and can be accessed at any time. Someone short on time can easily book a quick pep talk to get in the right frame of mind.

Despite a busy schedule behind the mic, poker remains a major part of her life. She’s been staying in Las Vegas playing the WSOP Online at as well as working on other projects.

In late July, Ho was also heading out of the country to play in the partypoker WPT World Online Championships. Adding her name to PepTalk now becomes part of an effort to become even more of a public speaker. 

“I’ve always been very interested in sharing my experiences and knowledge with others in a meaningful and impactful way,” she says.

“PepTalk works with individuals as well as corporate groups, so I plan to be giving larger talks with teams and inspiring them with poker principles, and how the skill set I have cultivated through the game can be applicable in other ways and industries.”

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