Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.
From time to time we chronicle a player that didn’t bother with a learning curve, and instead went straight to the top in the world of professional poker. Gus Hansen literally became a star overnight when he entered the Five Diamond World Poker Classic World Poker Tour Event in May, 2002 and won. Without knowing anything about Hansen, fans of poker learned a few things right off the bat about the player now known as “The Great Dane.”
The first is that he is a gambler. Hansen didn’t waste time in preliminary events, instead opting to pay $10,000 dollars to enter his first poker tournament. Hansen has said he’s a gambler first and a poker player second, and he has certainly shown that time and time again. Secondly, he won the tournament with a style of poker that hadn’t been seen much before, and has hardly been duplicated since then. On the surface it appears Hansen plays any two cards because he gets bored, but in reality he’s able to do that because of his top notch ability to read his opponents’ cards. It’s possible his opponents at that final table way back in 2002, such as John Juanda, Freddy Deeb, and Scotty Nguyen thought he might have just been a flash in the pan, but over eight years later Hansen has proved he’s here to stay.
Gustav Hansen was born February 13, 1974 right outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. Despite being a few decades apart in age, Hansen focused primarily on backgammon, like Dan Harrington, as a youngster. Hansen played poker with his friends occasionally, but only as something to do when he wasn’t playing backgammon. Hansen didn’t realize it at the time, but playing backgammon helped him develop the decision making skills that would later help him at the poker table. As imagined, the professional backgammon scene wasn’t big in Denmark, so eventually Hansen made it to New York City, also much the same way as Harrington did.
When Hansen arrived in New York City, he became friends with two of the bigger names in the poker world, Huck Seed and Phil Laak. With friends like that you can’t help but eventually learn to play poker and with the backgammon scene pretty much all but dried up, Hansen turned his attention to the green felt.
Gus took the next few years developing his style in the underground card rooms in New York City, and by occasionally taking trips to Las Vegas to test his new found skills against the very best. At first Hansen said he felt the game came to him easily, but after a few trips to Vegas that saw him lose most or all of his bankroll, he realized he needed to take the game even more seriously if he was ever going to not only survive in the shark infested world that is professional poker, but also become a shark himself. Over the course of the next few years though, Hansen did nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe poker, and in the early 2000’s he was ready to dive head first into the deep end.
As a child Hansen enjoyed all sports, especially tennis. Being that tennis is a game that is usually played at the highest levels in a tournament format, it made sense that Hansen was drawn towards tournament poker. After winning the World Poker Tour event, which was the inaugural WPT event, Hansen wasted little time before succeeding in other tournaments. In February of 2003, he won his second WPT Event, taking down the L.A. Poker Classic, and just two months later he won his third WPT event, “The Bad Boys of Poker” event. In the first three poker events Hansen ever placed in he won them all, and added a total of over 1.2 million dollars to his bankroll. This is arguably the best start to a tournament poker career of all the players we’ve chronicled in the PokerWorks “Where Are They Now Series.” However, it hardly went downhill from here.
In fact, in the first six tournaments Hansen cashed in, all WPT events, he earned four first place finishes, and a third and sixth place finish. All said, Hansen has finished in the money of nine WPT events, with 7 of those being final tables. The one tournament nut Hansen hasn’t yet to been able to crack is winning a World Series of Poker Bracelet. He hasn’t played the WSOP as much as other players, but it’s still a bit surprising, being that he hasn’t even made a final table yet, with two 10th place finishes being his best result.
Since 2005 Hansen has begun to focus largely on cash games, and the largest cash games in the world, at that. Hansen is one of the few players that can be considered a “regular” at Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He has also been featured on the Game Show Networks High Stake Poker. The episodes he has appeared on have been some of the highest rated shows in the history of the network. He also participated in the biggest pot the show had ever seen. He was up against Daniel Negreanu, holding four of kind—fives—against “Kid Poker’s” full-house. The final pot tallied $575,000.
Hansen’s online cash game exploits have been well documented. In at least two different sessions, Hansen has lost one million dollars. It has also been documented where he has gone on downswings lasting weeks, and even months, at a time. But, by all accounts, he has been able to battle his way back every time this has happened to him, as most good poker players always will. Also, despite spending most of his time playing cash now, positive tournament results have continued to come as a regular occurrence over the last few years. In April 2008 he finished second in his specialty, a WPT event for his highest cash ever, and his second million dollar plus cash, for 1.7 million dollars and change.
Hansen also has his hands dipped into a number of other endeavors. The most profitable one of those was when he decided to become one of the initial investors of the poker room Pokerchamps.com, which made its debut in 2003. In 2005 Pokerchamps.com was bought by what is now BetFair for 15 million dollars. Just last month he opened GusHansentv.com, which is to be used as a poker channel. What has been described as a publicity stunt for the website, Hansen took on poker pro Theo Jorgensen one on one. Not at a poker table though, but in a boxing ring. Jorgenson, the underdog won a decision, and $35,000 from a side bet the two had made. The boxing match didn’t hurt Hansen’s face too bad, as he also acts as a model for a Danish magazine, and has appeared in People’s “Sexiest Men Alive” lists. Find Gus online at Full Tilt Poker .
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