Location: Monte Carlo, Monaco
Online Screen Names: Gus Hansen
Endorsed: Full Tilt Poker
Websites: Gushansenpoker.com, @gus_hansen
Considered one of the most decorated and easily recognizable faces in the game today, Gustav “Gus” Hansen has built an incredible reputation as one of the loosest and most aggressive players alive. He’s created this persona through his undeniable poker skill set, and uncanny charisma. Hailing originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, the former Danish tennis player and world-class backgammon professional has amassed several of poker’s biggest tournament titles through his many years of play. Despite being publicly labeled as the “Great Dane,” Hansen has already risen well above the stature of his Danish hound counterpart in terms of his breathtaking resume throughout his poker career.
Currently residing in the small municipality that is Monaco, Hansen’s drive and determination to succeed wasn’t always aimed towards poker. In his younger years, Hansen also gained a strong reputation in Denmark as one of the world’s best backgammon players. In fact, Hansen struggled early an as adolescent with the dream of turning pro. In Denmark however, the chance to excel to the next level is small because of the lack of backgammon clubs and top-tier opponents. Incidentally, and similar to many other historical player accounts however, his poker involvement came at the sake of sacrifice and coincidence.
While attending UC Santa Cruz as an exchange student in his early twenties, Hansen began participating in small games that ran occasionally around the area. He played at several different casinos and in small local games, and along his journey stumbled across several winning players that were implementing strategies that he had never encountered before.
“I saw one guy who always seemed to be winning,” stated Hansen to CardPlayer Magazine. “He helped me out a little. He was a good player for the game that was there, and he did funky, unconventional things. I said to myself, if he can do it, why can’t I?”
As most of Hansen’s current poker colleagues and friends are aware, his insistence on understanding and conceptualizing the theoretical processes behind certain moves and plays has always been one of his kindest attributes. While his curiosity has also simultaneously played the role of a villian in his story to the top, the former supercedes the latter by the largest of margins. Throughout his career, he’s gone on to nearly trademark the deceptive and hard to predict “LAG” style, and it’s certainly paid its dividends to his bottom line. In Hansen’s earliest poker sessions, he certainly dominated with it.
Unfortunately for Hansen, much of his ongoing poker success was cut short with the news that he was declared eligible for Denmark’s military lottery. Hansen ended up being picked, and was forced to serve for nine months. But regardless of the minor setback to his poker career, Hansen has consistently viewed that portion of his life positively, and without much regret.
“Personally, I think it was a good point in time for me to be in the service. I may have needed a break from my gambling career to get back to real life. It was a good experience at the right time.”
While the temporary lapse in Hansen’s gambling adventures certainly humbled him, upon his release he was insistent on returning to the game he so vehemetly adored. While returning to Santa Cruz certainly crossed his mind, this time around it was the Big Apple that peaked his interest the most. Not only was he allowed to participate in side poker games, but New York also provided some of the most competitive high-stakes backgammon games he had ever witnessed. He gained notoriety and monetary value for several months from his exploration, until he finally met a few people who would change his life. He met Huckleberry Seed and Phil Laak. Both, being incredibly talented at both sports, convinced Hansen that poker should also be heavily included in his gambling repertoire. From that point forward, it always was.
Hansen’s big introduction to poker superstardom came in a World Poker Tour event. Hansen entered the 2002 Five-Diamond World Poker Classic, and finished with the first place prize against 145 other players. Statistically, from that point forward, Hansen has never really looked back. He’s one of the most successful tournament players in poker history, with over $9 million dollars in career tournament earnings. He absolutely owns the World Poker Tour, as he has 3 titles, 9 cashes, and 7 final table appearances. Only a few others, including future Hall of famers Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, have had more success and are ahead of Hansen in terms of overall tournament earnings.
Poker’s Danish star has first place finishes at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic ($532,490), 2004 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $7,500 No-Limit Hold’em ($455,780), 2005 Poker Superstar Invitational ($1,000,000), and 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event ($1,200,000). Although these wins certainly account for the biggest portions of Hansen tournament earnings, it’s quite possibly the 2010 World Series of Poker Europe bracelet he earned in the High Roller Heads-Up event that he appreciates the most.
“I have been playing the World Series since my good friend Huck Seed won it in the mid 90s,” mentioned Hansen, in an interview with PokerListings. “Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I’ve had a lot of attempts since then and I was fairly close a couple of times. I’m actually a little bit surprised it came in a heads-up event, but I’m really happy to win it.”
In accompanyment of Hansen’s tournament success, he’s also a regular in the largest cash games in the world. He’s a frequent visitor of “Bobby’s Room” at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and also plays online exclusively under his sponsorship with Team Full Tilt Poker. Although Hansen’s aggressive style has worked without much resistance in the past, in recent history many of his peers actually consider Hansen one of the weaker competitors in the games. Specifically in the nosebleed No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha cash games on Full Tilt Poker, both Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond reported that Hansen is often the reason why many of the high-stakes sessions currently run. Although very few players will go as far to label Hansen specifically as a “fish,” in 2007 and 2008 sites such as HighStakesDB, a statistical poker tracking web site, reported that Hansen had back-to-back losing years during that span. Despite the site’s limitations of tracking NLHE and PLO almost exclusively, Hansen was strong to refute his label as a “high-stakes fish.”
“The thing is, I have my own numbers, which are more precise and more accurate than the High Stakes DB,” he said in a 2009 interview with PokerListings.
Despite the accuracy of Hansen’s own portfolio, he still managed to lose a regrettable $1.6 million in the NLHE and PLO games just last year in 2010. Although no professional ever wants to believe they’re a target, the statistics may speak for themselves. Many of the professional players might have trouble disagreeing as well.
Regardless of Hansen’s cash game results, he still attracts thousands of poker railbirds any time he’s at the poker felt. His level of magnetism has landed him recurring spots on popular television programs such as NBC’s Poker After Dark and GSN’s High Stakes Poker.
Hansen was a part founder of the site Pokerchamps.com, which was established in 2003. Although the site had moderate success in its opening, it later sold to a bigger and more productive conglomerate in Betfair Poker. The site sold for over $15 million. Hansen also had his own entreprenuerial endeavor with the web site thePlayr.com, which had devoted poker forums and poker strategy content. Hansen later sold that investment however, in 2008. He’s currently under contract with Team Full Tilt Poker, with whom he’s had a blog and personal web page.
In 2008, Lyle Kensington also published Hansen’s first book, entilted Every Hand Revealed, which chronicles nearly every hand he played as he won the 2007 Aussie Millions championship.
In 2004, Hansen also won the title of one of the “50 Sexiest Men Alive” by People Mazazine.
If Hansen isn’t busy in live tournaments or on the virtual felt, you can usually find him on the golf links, tennis court, or participating in a slew of other gambling interests.
Hansen currently plays several different poker variations at the limits of $100/$200 and up on Full Tilt Poker.