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Gustav (Gus) Hansen alias "The great Dane"

Last Update: 20. March 2014

Full Tilt Poker
“Then everybody will see how mad I actually am!”
Gus about his book
Kopenhagen, DK
Monaco, MC
Backgammon, sports (tennis, soccer, squash, golf), sports betting
Bad Religion, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Björn Afzelius, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, U2, Pink Floyd and many more
Rounders, Maverick
...during his childhood at sports camps and clubs
Aggressive, likes to mix and switch styles
Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey
„Gus is my idol the guy plays almost every hand he can’t just sit back and wait for aces or something. Gus is a pokergod!“ (a fan)
Learned English by listening to a Pink Floyd album and reading the lyrics; was elected one of the 50 sexiest men alive by People Magazine; acts in the US action movie "Redline"; is famous for his unconventional playing style; was among the first three players (the other two being Doyle Brunson and James Gardner) who were inducted into the WPT Walk of Fame

Heading for the USA

In 1993 Gus went to Santa Cruz, California, for an exchange year where he spent a lot of time at the small, local casino playing poker and observing other players. He carefully studied their individual strategies, especially admiring players with rather unconventional, unpredictable methods. Not sure which strategy was ideal for him, Gus often - even today - uses several approaches in one game, which earned him a reputation of being a sloppy, inconsistent player.

After his military service in Denmark, Gus Hansen headed back to the States, this time to New York where he proved his extraordinary backgammon skills in various backgammon- and Gin Rummy clubs. He decided to make a living as a professional backgammon player, but the field eventually became too small for him. The Dane spent a lot of time hanging out with future poker professionals like Huckleberry Seed and Phil Laak, and his passion for poker was reawakened. Consequently, he often travelled to Las Vegas to learn new poker variations and improve his game.

In 1996 Gus Hansen participated in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for the first time but dropped out on the first day of the tournament. This was no surprise, given that he had never played no-limit Texas Hold’em before. Gus did not lose heart because of this initial failure, though! On the contrary, he intensified his training, tried new poker variations, experimented with various strategies and combined them. Trying to find his own personal style, he eventually realized that combining methods and experimenting with different strategies was precisely what constituted his own personal style. Gus’ permanent changing of tactics even led to some of his colleagues suspecting him of having a split personality.

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Big wins thanks to chaotic playing style

This frequently criticized style that may seem chaotic to outsiders eventually became Gus Hansen’s trademark and started earning him money as well as recognition. When the first World Poker Tour (WPT) was carried out in 2002, Gus felt ready to go for it and show everyone that he was a force to be reckoned with. He won the $ 10,000 no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas and collected more than $ 500,000 Dollars. After this breakthrough, Gus Hansen’s face was well known throughout the poker scene and he seemed literally unstoppable.

In 2003 he received his second WPT title in the L.A. Poker Classic. Only a few months later he participated in the WPT “Bad Boys of Poker” invitational tournament in Las Vegas and won this event as well. He finished third in the WPT Championship. Nothing, it seemed, could end his lucky streak. In 2007 he landed his fourth WPT title in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. That same year, together with Doyle Brunson and James Garner, he was inducted into the World Poker Tour Walk of Fame. Being the only player to have won four WPT titles so far, he gained even greater fame as well as a new nickname: The Great Dane.

But this was only early days: In 2005 Gus Hansen topped his previous victories by collecting a one million dollar pot for his Poker Superstars Invitational victory. That same year he won the London All Star Challenge, as well as the NBC Poker After Dark tournament, beating poker pros like Phil Hellmuth and Huck Seed. Gus also was one of the members of Phil Ivey’s legendary “Corporation”, a club which challenged successful banker and millionaire Andy Beal and shook him down for 16.5 million dollars. In 2007 he won the Aussie Millions in Melbourne, the biggest poker tournament outside the USA, collecting 1.2 million dollars.

It is mainly for his extremely high winnings that Gus Hansen went down in poker history. In 2006, in the second season of High Stakes Poker, he defeated Daniel Negreanu with quads of 5s beating Daniel who, with a full house, felt certain to be collecting the mega pot of $ 575,700, which, until then, was the biggest pot in the entire history of the show! Recently, Gus has been focussing more on cash-games and chooses the tournaments he participates in very carefully. He regularly participates in Bellagio’s “Big Play” in Las Vegas where he plays 13 different variants of poker against stars like Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, David Benyamine and Barry Greenstein. He often plays high stakes online poker, mostly pot-limit Omaha or limit Omaha Hi Lo. Rather rarely Gus can be found playing low stake limit Texas Hold’em, Razz or Sit’n’Go matches.

In 2010, Hansen finally won his first WSOP bracelet alongside £288,409 when taking part in the No Limit Hold'em High Roller Heads-Up event at the WSOPE.

In spite of his incredible success, Gus Hanson struggles with financial problems every now and again. His aggressive style and his love of high risk often lead to enormous losses in cash-games. Losing about a million or so in just a couple of games is nothing out of the ordinary for Gus. It is not a secret that he loves all kinds of sports bets and often loses. Sometimes he even bets on his own personal sports performance. Although Gus does not make a secret of his excessive gambling, calling himself a professional gambler, there are moments he wishes he could just kick the habit.

Gus' crazy poker strategy

Gus Hansen describes his unique, aggressive style as a bit “crazy”. Unlike his colleague Howard Lederer who recommends every beginner to play very carefully and thoughtfully, Gus does not like the idea of sticking to rules and guidelines. He once explained in an interview that he had read a little bit about poker in order to get a general idea of the game but then had created his own style. Moreover, according to Gus it simply is more fun to “play one’s hands instead of throwing them away again and again”. Besides, playing more hands can be highly instructive. Even though it is hard for a beginner to play weak hands, Gus recommends everybody to try it as often as possible and to keep experimenting in order to learn something. His style influenced the poker scene in a way that the expression of “having a Gus’” has become synonymous for “having a weak hand”, a hand that only Gus Hansen could play successfully. In spite of his anything-goes approach, Gus also stresses the importance of being able to slow down a bit and play more carefully if the situation requires it. Many young, aggressive players lack this ability. It is something Gus has acquired over many years and he is convinced that it is this long-time experience that makes him a better poker player.

There is some malicious gossip about Gus just being lucky without really knowing what he is doing, but his success rate definitely proves the contrary. He does admit to sometimes making questionable decisions and, after all, poker also is a game of chance. But the Great Dane simply is brilliant at it.

An additional aspect of his personal strategy is music. During a long tournament, Gus likes to turn on his i-Pod and to relax while listening to Bad Religion, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Björn Afzelius, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, U2 or Pink Floyd. Music has always played an important role in the life of the Great Dane who learned English mainly by listening to a Pink Floyd album and reading the lyrics.

Away from the poker tables

Away from the poker tables, Gus Hansen is an all-rounder with multiple talents: he is a passionate tennis player and also plays golf, squash and soccer. Gus is a sports addict with a strong competitive drive. In Denmark he even plays for a football team. Staying in good physical condition is very important for Gus, especially when spending a lot of time sitting at the poker table. Moreover, physical workout perfectly counterbalances the mental challenge of poker and helps him to stay focussed during games and tournaments.

Backgammon is still one of Gus’s favourite hobbies and he is always willing to play for high stakes against anybody who dares to challenge him. But Hansen’s strong points even go beyond poker, sports and backgammon: in 2004, the bachelor by conviction was elected one of the 50 sexiest men alive by People Magazine. 

If, by now, you are so full of admiration you are finding it hard not to lose control, hold on tight and prepare for even more:

Gus comments Danish and American poker broadcasts, features in the American action movie “Redline” (2007) and writes a weekly blog for the Danish newspaper “Ekstra Bladet”. In 2003 he was the subject of a Danish documentary film with the title “Royal Straight Flush”. Moreover, he has a contract with the Danish men’s fashion label Frank Q to wear their couture exclusively for public appearances.

And that’s still not the end of it: all-rounder Gus Hansen also has remarkable writing skills and published a book about his victory at the 2007 Aussie Millions called Every Hand Revealed in 2008. He used a voice recorder during the tournament in order to analyze his hands afterwards. The book offers an overview of all hands he played during the tournament. Gus demonstrates how to win a tournament and explains all the decisions he made. In this unique, unprecedented book, some 320 hands have been analyzed.

“Then everybody will see how mad I actually am!” says Gus about his book.

Gus Hansen lives in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and is a bachelor out of conviction, as mentioned above.

“Because I simply like too many women!” he explains.

He travels the world playing poker, doing whatever he likes. According to Gus, this kind of life is not compatible with a permanent relationship and the idea of hooking up does not appeal to him at all. Wrapping the Great Dane around one’s finger is not an easy task but stick to it Ladies! Who knows…

Even though he lives alone, Gus loves spending a lot of time with his family in Monaco. He particularly adores his little niece Sally and is looking forward to passing all his poker knowledge on to her.

Gus Hansen – Poker star, brainiac and mastermind, top athlete, writer, actor, TV star, model and sex symbol – this man leaves nothing to be desired!

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