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Poker News | Poker Book Review

A Review of Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed

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I vividly remember the first time I saw Gus Hansen play poker. It was the final table of a World Poker Tour tournament televised on the Travel Channel, and I sat in wonder at this apparent maniac raising under the gun with hands like J-4 offsuit. Hansen’s play challenged everything I thought I knew about no limit hold’em, and, judging by his success, equally confused many of the best players in the world as well. Now, Hansen has undertaken a book project as unique as his style of play. Every Hand Revealed tracks each and every hand that Hansen played in last year’s Aussie Millions tournament, a tournament which he won.

Many who have watched Hansen play on television will be aware that he plays at the table while keeping a miniature recording device in his pocket. After each hand in which he is involved, he speaks into the recorder, taking notes on the play of the hand for a few minutes. It is this note-taking that forms the core of the book, in which Hansen takes us from the prelude to the action, in which he finds himself sitting at the same table with Phil Ivey discussing potential prop bets, to the final hand, when Hansen’s pocket aces eliminated Jimmy Fricke to win the tournament. Along the way, Hansen details how he plays at every stage of a tournament, from Day One to the final table, while providing insightful and entertaining commentary on every one of the hundreds of hands in which he was involved.

We get to look inside Hansen’s brilliant mathematical mind, as he dissects pot odds, considers various options in difficult situations and fearlessly attacks his opponents throughout the event. Hansen is remarkably frank in his assessment of both his and his opponent’s play, and he is unafraid to berate himself during stretches of the tournament when he felt he was playing poorly, explaining the exact nature of his mistakes and how he could have played the hands more effectively.

I must say that I found this book to be quite extraordinary. Hansen makes an extremely powerful case for his particular style of tournament poker, and his hand analysis is as sharp as any to be found in any poker book to date. We see the mathematics underpinning every decision Gus makes at the table, and we also get to see that, behind the apparently maniacal style, is a player who rarely bluffs (unless you count the rather unusual starting hands that he often considers worth seeing a flop), and who is acutely aware of the other players at the table, their stack sizes, the blind and ante structures, and exactly how to play a hand to produce the desired outcome. An added bonus is a chapter at the end of the book where he presents a detailed statistical analysis of his play in the event, showing the types of hands he played, his bet sizing, his continuation bets, and his all-in confrontations.

In his final thoughts, Hansen wonders aloud if, in his desire to share his playing style and processes in such detail, he will make himself less effective as a player. He determines that the ultimate mark of the great player is the ability to continually be adaptable to whatever circumstances present themselves at the table. The breadth of knowledge, creativity and skill that Hansen displays in this book leads me to believe that he will never run out of ideas as to how to continually shift his style to be one of the most successful tournament players in the world.

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