Despite downswings that include a fatal car accident, opiate addiction, prison and the death of his infant son, Hoivold keeps his spirits high and a smile on his face. The trick, Hoivold says, is simple: be nice.
“Be nice to people," Hoivold said.
"There are so many, excuse my language, assholes that are rude to people. Just treat people nicely and then I hope that that will make you feel better, at least it does for me.
“I try to keep a smile all the time. I think it’s way better to do that than to be grouchy and mean.”
Hoivold Barely Survives Horrific Car Accident
Hoivold -- a Norwegian pro who has an EPT title and $1.72 million in live earnings to his name -- has several reasons to be grouchy. The 41-year-old still suffers chronic pain from a fatal car accident he was involved in at the age of 21.
“I had a pretty bad accident a long time ago and I broke almost every bone in my body,” Hoivold said.
“I was in the hospital for a long time and I got convicted for killing another person with a car and I was put in jail.”
Hoivold spent three months in the hospital and then nine in a wheelchair before having to serve a five-month prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter.
“I got punished pretty hard,” Hoivold said. “Going to jail was not what I was expecting.”
Due to the extent of his injuries, Hoivold would occasionally leave the prison to attend physical therapy. Instead of providing relief from incarceration, Hoivold’s prison breaks caused more trouble for the Norwegian pro.
“I was the only one that was able to go outside the prison because I had all these injuries,” Hoivold said. “There were also drugs coming into the prison and I was accused of bringing them in.
“It took them several weeks before they realized it was the grandmother of one of the guys in there that brought them in. I was stripped naked every time I came back. I was put naked in a cell for 9 hours one time. It was a nightmare.”
More Tragedy for Hoivold After Car Accident
But Hoivold served his time and, despite being in pain, experienced one of the happiest moments of his life.
“Things were looking good,” Hoivold said. “I had my son I was back to being really happy again, but that lasted so short. He was only three months when he died. It was a nightmare, it was the worst thing that could happen.
“After that I was pretty depressed and didn’t feel very good”
Hoivold was on prescription opiates since his car accident but the medicine prescribed to numb his pain quickly became his biggest source of angst.
“I used a lot of prescription drugs but still, you get addicted to it. It’s morphine and it was pretty tough. I used that for a long time,” Hoivold said. “I decided to quit it and I started playing poker and the poker went really well.
“I played a little bit before but I didn’t do that well, I did ok, but when I stopped using all these medications I started doing really well.”
Poker was difficult for Hoivold to get into since the game is illegal in Norway. Hoivold always had a fascination with cards but his only experience with poker were friendly five-card draw games. Then, in 2004, Hoivold got the itch to play and started looking for partners.
“It was pretty random. I was online in some chat group searching for other people who wanted to play poker and I didn’t even know about [NLHE] then. They said they wanted to play this game and I said, ‘OK, I’m OK with that,’” Hoivold said. “Of course I started losing at first because I had no clue what I was doing, but I caught up pretty fast.”
Hoivold Wins Life-Changing EPT Dortmund
Hoivold’s poker career then catapulted him from not knowing what NLHE was to EPT champion in just a few years.
“I played online and won this Norwegian championship,” Hoivold said.
“I got a ticket into the Nordic poker challenge that Ladbrokes had in Tallinn and I won that one. Then I got a ticket into the Poker Million and I took third in that one, they gave me a sponsorship into one EPT as a tryout and I won that one.
“So I had a crazy run in 4-5 months. It was crazy. Since then it has not been going as well.”
Hoivold scored more than $1.1 million in those few months and continued to play professionally. Hoivold then moved to Las Vegas in 2009 to play in the televised High Stakes Poker show. Hoivold lost some cash but gained a spouse.
“I ended up meeting a girl and getting married, she was no good and I divorced her. So that’s also been a mess. We were married two years,” Hoivold said. “I’ve had ups and downs but now I’m free from her finally and single.”
Hoivold Remains Optimistic About Life, Poker
Bachelor Hoivold is now focused on poker and hopes that the big downswings are a thing of the past.
“Having downs like that... it was close to killing me earlier on,” Hoivold said. “It’s dangerous for you and for your mental health and everything. It’s no good for you to have downs like that. I’m hoping to get some good ups again.”
When it comes to poker, Hoivold just wants to win.
“I used to have a goal: to be the first to win two EPTs," Hoivold said. "Then Vicky Coren came and destroyed my dreams. Now EPTs are not as fun anymore, I can’t do something no one’s ever done for a while.
“I can always try to win three but I have to win two first and that’s really difficult. My new goal is to win another big tournament, like the Aussie Millions. Something really big, that would be very nice. I wouldn’t mind it being a WSOP event and winning a bracelet.”
Aside from poker and despite his injuries, the Norwegian still likes speed away from the felt.
“I have a need for speed,” Hoivold said. “To do something that makes my heart go fast, like jet skiing or driving fast cars. Something that makes me feel alive.”
While those activities give Hoivold bursts of happiness, he’s still looking for something that’ll make it permanent.
“My goal in life is to become really happy again. That’s my goal. How that will happen could be anything,” Hoivold said. “It could be me moving to an island in the caribbean or maybe meet the right girl or maybe fly to the moon, it can be anything.”