Maria Ho Dominates Game of Gold, Defeats Danny McFanny for $456,000 in Cash

maria ho dominates game of gold

6 minutes

Last Updated: December 9, 2023

It’s been one amazing journey for all involved with Season 1 of the Poker After Dark Game of Gold, the first-ever poker themed reality show out there.

GGPoker and Poker After Dark brought out some of the best poker players and biggest names in the industry for Season 1, and in the end it was veteran poker player Maria Ho who won all the glory of being named the inaugural Game of Gold champion and $456,000 in cash that came with the title.

The show’s final episode, which aired just yesterday on GGPoker YouTube channel, gave us one of the most exciting and entertaining final tables in TV poker history, with raw emotion, massive pots, and colorful characters all on display.

In the end, it was Maria’s recognizable stoic demeanor, extreme professionalism across the board, and slight strokes of good fortune that allowed her to come away almost half a million dollars richer.

For everyone else, Game of Gold was an amazing experience that most said they would love to have again, and that is guaranteed to stay etched in their memories as they continue their respective careers in the world of gambling.

The Final Table of Six Is Set

Season 1 of the new poker reality show saw the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Jason Koon, David Williams, and Charlie Carrel all eliminated before the final day of the competition.

The brutal format gave little room for error, as players were punished for losing poker matches, and eventually even eliminated over a game of Indian Poker, an extremely high-variance game that none really knew how to play.

When all was said and done, only six players made it to the final table. These six were Maria Ho, Josh Arieh, Daniel “Jungleman” Cates, Fedor Holz, Kyna England, and Johan “YoH ViraL” Guilbert.

All six clearly came to play on the final day of Game of Gold, but it was Jungleman who really brought the show with him, coming to play dressed as a leprechaun, calling himself “Danny McFanny,” and speaking in a very sloppy Irish accent throughout.

Jungle even had partial costumes for other players, and the show kicked off with Maria not being very amused by his suggestion that she wears a witch’s hat, one that would come back to bite him in the back when the two went heads-up at the very end of the day.

Arieh Runs Into Aces, England Eliminated, and Holz with a Big Decision

Chips went back and forth in the early hands of the final table, as it usually goes when the stacks are as deep as they were in the final stretch of Game of Gold Season 1.

Josh Arieh, one of the most experience players at the table, was the first to experience real pain, when his AK ran into the pocket Aces of Fedor Holz.

With blinds at 20k/40k, Arieh made a 3-bet against Ho’s open, only to get 4-bet by Fedor, who was sitting to his immediate left.

Knowing how aggressive Fedor can get in these spots, Arieh did the right thing by moving all-in with his Big Slick, but was unfortunate to run into the American Airlines in the hands of the super-pro.

Fedor chipped up in a big way in this pot, and Arieh busted the event soon after, wishing a hearty “F..k you guys” to everyone in the game as he departed the studio.

However, it was not meant to be for Holz, who was soon put into a spot that would make or break his performance for the whole season.

A Crazy Hand of Poker

With blinds at 30k/60k, Fedor opened the pot with pocket Queens for 130k, and Kyna England moved all-in for her remaining 1.6 million with A4.

Maria Ho, who had not acted yet, woke up with AK behind her, and decided to just call, with Holz doing the same when the action came back to him.

With a massive 4.8 million chips in the pot, the dealer dealt out an ultimate cooler of a flop, QJ8. With these cards out there, there was always going to be blood.

game of gold maria ho wins

Holz responded to Maria’s check with a small 600k bet, one he admitted should have been bigger. Maria called and the turn brought a blank in the form of 2.

At this point, Maria checked again, and Holz perhaps had a chance to win the pot by moving all-in for his remaining 4.5 million chips. He decided to bet small again, putting 1.35 million out there, a bet Maria was again compelled to call.

There was 8.7 million in the pot now as the dealer put out the 10 on the river, the best card Maria could have hoped for, as it made her a straight and she knew for sure Fedor could not have a flush.

Instead of moving all-in, Ho decided to bet out for 1.8 million chips, putting Holz to the ultimate test. After spending nearly every time chip he had, the Austrian high roller decided to put the chips in and saw the bad news.

England was eliminated in this hand, and the game shifted heavily in Maria’s favor, as she now had a chip lead she would ride all the way to the heads-up match.

Maria Goes Heads Up with “Danny McFanny”

Jungleman has turned into quite a showman in the last few years, as we have seen him come dressed up as various characters to massive poker games, including the final tables of the $50k Poker Players Championship at the WSOP and some of the biggest cash games around.

This time around, Jungle was impersonating a leprechaun named “Danny McFanny” on a quest to win back his coveted pot of gold.

The whole spiel may have been a little tacky and poorly acted, but you have to give it to Jungleman for having the guts to put himself out there in such a way and also the willingness to go out of his way to entertain us with nearly half a million bucks on the line.

Despite the whimsical costume and character, one of the best poker players of all time put on quite a show during the heads-up match, playing extremely aggressively and winning pot after pot.

McFanny managed to come close to break-even in chips after entering the match as a massive underdog, but could not ride the wave all the way to victory.

In the end, Maria rivered a King-high flush in a spot that Jungle decided to bluff at, and all she needed to do was put the chips in to win the whole thing.

While Game of Gold was not necessarily the best test of long-term poker strategy and skills, the likes of Ho and Cates definitely showed their resilience, composure, and plenty of other skills that make them some of the best players around.

Maria walked away with the entire pot of gold this time around, and will be holding the title of Game of Gold champion until Season 2, which poker fans around the world will be eagerly expecting.

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