Gus Hansen, or ‘The Great Dane’, as he has been nicknamed by his fans, was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1974, as Gustav Hansen. He was an all-round sportsman, with his main talent being in tennis, and started his professional career as a backgammon player. He quickly became one of the best backgammon players in the world, and moved to New York to try and make his living there. Due to limited opportunities in his field he quit and discovered poker as an exchange student at the University of California in 1993, with Texas Holdem being his speciality. It didn’t take him long to master the game and discover his own unique approach to playing it, and he became widely known for his wild method of betting.
In 1995 Gus had to return to Denmark to fulfil his public service obligations, but he returned to the States just in time for the country’s new enthusiasm for poker, and dedicated himself to the game. He came to the attention of the public by becoming the premier winner of the inaugural World Poker Tour event – he paid the buy-in fee, and it was his first professional tournament, but that didn’t stop him beating 146 players and winning $500,000.
As well as ‘The Great Dane,’ Gus has other nicknames such as ‘Trashman’, and ‘The Poker Tramp’ both of which come from ‘non-fans’ – envious, awed judgements of Gus’s style of play, which, does not seem to be any style at all. Fellow poker players tend to be amazed at the way he plays – Gus is known as a loose, aggressive player who can take any two cards and play a hand. He just doesn’t seem to follow conventional poker ‘rules’. So, playing with ‘trash’ hands and being ‘willing’ to ‘play with anything’ earned him those two names, but the uncomfortable fact for other players is that he can actually win with any two cards! As Hansen says: ‘I play the players, not the cards,’ and he does indeed prey on other players weaknesses, keeping them off balance by making wild, contradictory, hard to track bets. Not many other players could do this consistently, but Gus does so in such a way that makes it look like he isn’t actually making decisions, but is randomly betting, raising and folding hands.
Hansen is the only poker player to ever win three World Poker Tour open tournaments – the Commerce Casino, the Bellagio Casino and the PokerStars Caribbean adventure, and he continues to dominate in WPT events – these days he only joins the larger buy-in events to play for biggest prizes.
Gus’s card risk-taking playing technique, his huge $4.7 million fortune, bad boy personality and looks that got him voted as one of the sexiest people in the world in People Magazine, have ensured that he has plenty of fans, and away from the table has plenty of time for the ladies! His rebellious nature and huge talent ensure that he will keep his fans for quite some time to come!
By Gen Wright
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