Watching Gus Hansen play can literally drive a pro mad, and turn a rookie’s world completely upside down. If there were one word that would best describe his style, it would have to be "unconventional”.
Everything about this guy is unconventional to the max, and if you see him re-raise 7,2o, you may want to think twice before adopting it as part of your game strategy. On one occasion, in a do-or-die situation, in a Poker Superstars III preliminary, he went all-in on several consecutive hands without even taking a look at his cards. Many have characterized his actions as "crazy” or "out of this world”, but all he did in the above mentioned tournament was to correctly assess his situation. Because many of the other players at the table only needed to reach a given position to qualify, he realized play would be extremely tight, with everyone trying to survive, rather than going for the win. In a classic ‘Fox’ vs ‘Farmer’ showdown, Hansen eliminated everyone and won the preliminary to advance (in the late stages, he did look at his cards though).
This above example gives an excellent insight into just what kind of a person Gus Hansen is. Even though his play may seem chaotic at times, and utterly unreadable pretty much all the time, there’s a cold battle plan in action behind his every move. Once he determines the right kind of tactic, he does whatever it takes to carry it through and to meet his objective.
Born in 1974, near Copenhagen (his full name is Gustav Hansen), the Great Dane proved to be a youngster of an extremely competitive nature. He played several sports, was a tennis champion at one point, but also a successful track athlete. To this day he stays true to a physical lifestyle, working out at the gym, and generally paying attention to his physique.
Despite being a college-jock type of person, the number crunching involved in backgammon fascinated him. He had been introduced to backgammon in high-school, and not long after he grew to be regarded as a world-class backgammon player. Turning professional would be the natural step to take, and in 2000, he moved to New York, in search of games. The backgammon scene was a tad disappointing though for the action-hungry Dane, and since poker involved a similar reasoning, making use of a mathematical model much like the one in backgammon, he took up poker.
He had played poker before, namely in 1993, at the Ocean View Casino in Santa Cruz, California, where he stayed as an exchange student, so the game wasn’t entirely new to him. Adjusting to NL Holdem though (he got eliminated fast in his first WSOP event in 1996, which happened to be a NL Holdem one) took some time.
He began to slowly improve his play, and by 2002, he was ready for the big leagues. The Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Vegas was his first big victory. He took home more than $500K on that one.
Victories in the 2003 L.A Poker Classic, in the Bad Boys of Poker Event that same year and in the 2004 PokerStars Caribbean adventure would follow. In 2005, the streak of victories would continue with the Poker Superstars Invitational and the Aussie Millions in 2007.
Even though Hansen doesn’t yet have a WSOP bracelet to boast (he has 2 WSOP money finishes and a 61st best Main Event finish, attained in 2007), he is the only player to have 4 WPT titles. For that achievement, he has been inducted into the WPT’s Poker Walk of Fame. To back his titles up, he has 9 final table appearances as well.
Add to all that the EPT final table and the 2 EPT money finishes he also has.
Although highly successful at poker, financial problems would still haunt the Dane, mostly on account of his sports and prop betting affinity. Word has it that once he borrowed $4 million from Doyle Brunson, a sum which he promptly repaid.
Believe it or not, poker is not the only activity Gus Hansen has made huge sacks of money at. In 2003 he launched an online poker room (pokerchamps.com, in which he was a co-owner), which he sold to Betfair 2 years later, for $15 million.
He currently plays online at Full Tilt Poker where you can catch him in action, and - if your bankroll is up to it – play against him.