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888Live Barcelona: Natalie Hof – “Eckhart Tolle changed my life.”

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More coverage from 888Live Barcelona as Lee Davy sits down with polymath Natalie Hof to discover what she wanted to be when she grew up, the influence of Eckhart Tolle and much more. 

888Live Barcelona: Natalie Hof – “Eckhart Tolle changed my life.” Audio

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Rewind a year, and I’m back in Barcelona for 888Live. I’m at the player’s party, which, for a poker writer, is like a rainy day for a hungry blackbird waiting patiently on a lawn. I stick my grey thing in so many people’s faces that I lose count, but there’s one person that evades me as I walk around honking my horn.

888Live Barcelona: Natalie Hof - “Eckhart Tolle changed my life.”Natalie Hof.

So, when I saw her, this time around, smiling, laughing, and having a ball, I wasn’t going to let her out of my sight.

So I sat her down, got my grey thing out, whacked it in her face, and two thousand words came out of our mouths.

Check it out. 

What’s it like working for 888?

“You know I worked for PokerStars before, so I know what it’s like working for people in the poker industry, For me, 888 is a family. I post, #888family because I feel it. Everyone, especially the ambassadors are more like friends. We hang out together, and even when we are not at a poker event, we are in touch. I remember my last contract, the people, the situation; it was very distant. Especially the ambassadors who were not as friendly as they are here. I mean some people didn’t even say hello and would walk right past me, so I really, really enjoy being part of this family. I feel very loved, and it makes the work easier because it doesn’t feel like work.”

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be everybody. Even when I was a child, I couldn’t decide. Even now I don’t know. I mean I am a poker player, and I’m a tv host, and I’m an educational theorist, so I don’t know. I think life is very colourful and I can’t choose one thing.”

What is an educational theorist?

“Everyone asks me this question. You study education, but you can’t become a teacher, I guess that’s right. I can go to a care station, for example, and if there is a family and they have problems with the children, and I think the child needs better protection, I can take the child and move them away from the family. It’s like social work.”

How did you get into that?

“When I finished high school, I just wanted to study, and I was like that sounds nice, that seems fun, wild nights, parties, let’s just study. My degree was very bad because I was very lazy in school, I don’t like learning stuff I don’t feel connected too. It’s tough for me to learn things I don’t like, so my degree was bad. I had to choose between Maths, Physics, Educational Science or Theology. I said ‘Theology, this sounds easy’, so I take this, and I need another subject, so I take Educational Science.

As we say in the UK, all of these fingers in all of these pies, where do you fall on meaning and purpose?

“I am 32. I think until you are 29 you close your eyes and live, and now I have breached 30 and thought ‘Right, I need a purpose, why am I here? What does the world want me to do?’  And I think because everyone around me says that I am good with people, I can make people feel good. I think I want to go in the therapist direction, like coaching, so that is what I am thinking about doing, some training or life coach, working with people, giving them a good feeling and help others.”

So, I imagine from the perspective of a life coach that learning from your mistakes and teaching other people not to make those mistakes is a good starting point, what are some of the hardest challenges you’ve had to come through in your life?

“I don’t believe in mistakes. Some people say I make the wrong decisions;I mean in poker, it’s probably the wrong decision but in life if you feel you have to make an immediate decision, and you are not far along enough in your mind to make the right decision, for that moment it is the right decision and you either learn or you succeed, so I always say a winner is just a loser who tried one more time, because if you read the biographies of all the entrepreneurs, the wealthy guys, they say ok for 40 years I was a fucking loser, and I failed all the time. It was good that I failed at the time because most people don’t fail because they are afraid to try. That was me when I was in my early 20’s.”

You weren’t taking risks.

“No.”

Who is inspiring you out there?

“A lot of German guys, Eckhart Tolle, I love Eckhart Tolle, when I read his book ‘The Power of Now’ it changed my whole perspective of life. I read the book in a situation where I felt very bad, and that was my darkest year, but in the end it was the best thing that happened to me because I felt very lonely and I had only myself, and I needed to start loving myself as much as possible to grow, so Eckhart Tolle is the best in my opinion. For growth and success, I like Timothy Ferriss.”

You said that you needed to learn to love yourself. How do you do that?

“Actually, I didn’t hate myself, but I remember me when I was 25 and I had some bad years because I had bad connections, bad boyfriends, bad friends because it’s very important what you feed your mind, conversations, the things you read and watch and I wasn’t good at that and I was very hard on myself, even with poker, I was like, when I bust, ‘yeah it’s because I suck’ and then when I read Eckhart Tolle, and I was taking time to get to know me and accept myself, then I start loving myself. Some people call it arrogance because when you talk so positively about yourself, some people will say you are arrogant but I believe only when you love yourself to the fullest, can you give love to others.

 The Power of Now, it’s a challenging book to read, what were the main things you took away from it?

The simplest things, like to live in the moment. I remember sitting there dreaming about the future or thinking about the past and not enjoying this moment. I was thinking, “Next week I want to go to Vegas,” and going to Vegas was always on my mind, “Maybe I win then, and I’m up here” {points to the sky}. I don’t enjoy conversations because I’m already thinking about other stuff, that was the main thing I took from the book because I think most people aren’t in the moment. Even when I walk to the beach, I’m looking at every tree thinking, ‘what a nice tree.’ I don’t think everyone is doing this, but it can be so powerful, to be honest.”

It can be super annoying when you are with someone who is not present. Earlier, we were talking about your time in PokerStars, and the difference with 888, that’s a similar thing.  People being present for you and people who are not there.

“And for example, I think the most problems we have is searching for happiness because happiness is not a result, it’s a position. I wake up and say ‘No, I am happy’, and if I start smiling, my body thinks I am happy, and I will become happy, so it’s not like, if I win the Main, then my life is good. If you don’t think that and you think, my life is pretty good, I love my life and if I win the Main Event, it makes it even better, it takes the pressure away.”

So you’ve got to love yourself, you’ve got to be in the moment, what else?

“Don’t judge yourself!”

That’s hard!

“Even when you get drunk and call your ex-boyfriend, don’t judge yourself!”

One more?

“Get rid of bad people in your company.”

888Live Barcelona: Natalie Hof - “Eckhart Tolle changed my life.”How do you get rid of bad people?

“Be honest. For example, I have a friend, and we met when we were one year old. We had a good friendship from 1 to 7, then we grew apart, and now we are close again. It’s normal that you grow in different ways and if you don’t take it personally then be honest. You say at the moment ‘we aren’t connecting’. Then if the person is reflective and it’s ok – she does not hate me, she’s just telling me I’m not connecting. Choose your company wisely.

Oh, and be careful what you feed your mind and body. This year I quit smoking and drinking, I smoked for ten years. I think it is disgusting, but now I am so in love with myself that I can’t do that to my body, poison. Even with my mind, I don’t watch tv, and I choose my podcasts or books wisely because it’s so interesting how the things we feed our mind affect our thinking, and thinking will turn into feeling and feeling into actions, so even when I talk with people who are so negative, after two hours, I’m like save me, crazy.”

This is one of the reasons I don’t like going to Vegas, because the energy brings me down.

“I hate Vegas too!”

I love the poker, but there is a toxic feel to it after a while.

But you can handle it. Last year I was like ok, I know I hate Vegas, I hate this place, it’s so fucking fake, but I will concentrate and focus on the positive things, and now I go for four weeks so wish me luck!”

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