Gus Hansen is a phenomenal poker player. Not only does he have three World
Poker Tour titles under his belt, but he has also won a WSOP gold bracelet, an
Aussie Millions championship, and a plethora of other world-renowned
tournaments. Throughout his poker career, he has won over $10 million from live
tournaments alone, which gives him second place on Denmark’s All-Time Money
For more information on Gus Hansen, his childhood, his path to becoming a
professional poker player, and to see what his future beholds, please continue
reading this detailed biography. We guarantee you will learn something you never
Gustav Hansen was born on February 13, 1974, on the outskirts of Copenhagen,
Denmark. His mom started calling him Gus when he was a toddler and the name
stuck with him right up through to his adulthood. Hansen always had a good
relationship with his mother, as they spent lots of one-on-one time together.
Hansen was homeschooled for the majority of his elementary school years, being
taught by his mother and occasionally his Aunt Elise.
It wasn’t until Hansen was a teenager that his parents started having more
children: two girls and one boy. Since there was a considerable age gap between
him and his siblings, Hansen felt more like a father-figure to them than a
brother. During the evenings, Hansen was responsible for preparing dinner for
his siblings and putting them to bed, because both of his parents worked
second-shift jobs at the time.
Before Hansen entered high school, his father taught him how to play
backgammon. He spent the entire summer playing backgammon, learning various
strategies on how to win and becoming a very skilled player. Hansen was so
passionate about the game that he started a club at his school for other
students to learn and play backgammon. He would organize tournaments that would
take place at school grounds and involve several other schools in the
When Hansen wasn’t playing backgammon, he could be found studying. He was a
hard-working student who was especially skilled when it came to mathematics. He
was placed in advanced math courses his entire high school career, receiving As
in all of them. He was awarded several different academic scholarships thanks to
his performances, which he used to pay for tuition at the University of
California Santa Cruz (UCSC). Since he was mathematically inclined, he thought a
degree in accounting would suit him well.
Developing an Interest in Poker
While attending UCSC, Hansen got his first taste of gambling. He got invited
to one of his classmate’s weekly Texas Hold’em poker tournaments that took place
in the common room of his four-person dorm room. Eight people crowded around a
small coffee table and were eager to teach Hansen how to play. Despite never
playing poker before, Hansen was able to walk away from that poker game a
winner. His friends were amazed by how quickly he was able to pick up the game’s
rules and start developing winning strategies of his own.
In 1995, Gus was sent back home to Denmark to serve in the military. During
his down time, he would play poker against his fellow soldiers. He continued to
hone his skills and even tried a couple variation of poker like Omaha,
Seven-card Stud, and Razz. Once his time serving in the military had officially
come to an end, he moved back to the United States and started entering in every
poker tournament he could.
Professional Poker Career
In 2002, Hansen had his first big win. He took first place in the World Poker
Tour Five-Diamond World Poker Classic, which came with a cool $550,000 cash
prize. Less than a year later he won the World Poker Tour No Limit Hold’em
Championship, bringing home another $530,000 in the process. Realizing this was
more money than he would ever be able to make as an accountant, Hansen decided
to focus all of his time and attention to poker.
He started a small online poker room called Poker Champs in 2003. While he
was able to attract a couple of thousand people to his site, he just didn’t have
enough time to invest in the company. He was too busy traveling the world to
compete in various poker tournaments, getting his professional poker career off
its feet. He eventually sold the company to Betfair for $15 million.
Hansen was invited to compete in the inaugural Poker Superstars Invitational
Tournament in 2005. He was hesitant to compete at first, as the buy-in was
$400,000. Believing this would be a good way to show off his poker skills, he
decided to enter it. Despite being forced to play against other accomplished
Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey,
Hansen surprised everyone by landing 1st place and taking home the grand prize
of $1 million. Soon after that, people started calling him the “Great Dane” of
poker, as a reference to his incredible talent and Danish heritage.
Now that he had a little more money to work with, he started competing in
tournaments all over the world. He headed to Melbourne, Australia in 2007 to
compete in their Aussie Millions event. After placing in the top ten for most of
their smaller tournaments, Hansen managed to win first place in their main
event. Performing better than his 700 competitors, Hansen was able to take home
his biggest career win yet: $1.5 million. He decided to write a book about his
experiences at the Aussie Millions titled, “Every Hand Revealed.” Thousands
copies of his book have been sold in Denmark and the United States.
Hansen appeared on the second season of High Stakes Poker, where he managed
to win $575,000 after taking down professional poker player, Daniel
Negreanu. His performance on that show lead to a sponsorship from Full Tilt
Poker. He was a part of the Full Tilt Poker team for just over five years,
proudly wearing his Full Tilt Poker uniform to every tournament he competed in.
The year 2010 would be a significant year in Hansen’s professional poker
career, as it was the year he won his first World Series of Poker bracelet. He
finished first in the No Limit Hold’em High Roller Heads-Up event at the WSOPE,
winning the signature gold bracelet and over $450,000. Later that same year, he
won his first Poker Million IX tournament. He played heads up against Tony
Bloom, getting him to fold on a well-orchestrated bluff. The prize for this
tournament was another $1 million.
The last major performance of his career took place in January of 2012. He
placed third in the Aussie Millions $250,000 No Limit Hold’em Challenge. Making
it to the final table, he got beat out by Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius.
Although he didn’t win, he wasn’t too disappointed; his third-place finish came
with an $820,000 cash prize.
Taking a Couple Years Off
Over the next few years, Hansen struggled to perform well in live
tournaments. He explained his concerns in an interview with Poker News, “I think
every competitive player has to question himself at some point and ask ‘has the
game surpassed me? Am I rusty? Am I not good enough in this game anymore?’ I’m
asking myself questions and that keeps me up at night.”
He won a couple of thousand dollars here and there, but he was no longer
making enough money to support himself financially. He also was performing
poorly online, reportedly having lost 21.7 million dollars at Full Tilt Poker
alone. He took all this as a sign to walk away from his career as a professional
poker player and take a job as an accountant instead.
He completely left the poker scene, refusing to enter any tournaments or even
make an appearance in Las Vegas until he got his finances back on track. He also
dedicated more time to improving his physical health, playing tennis and
backgammon on a regular basis.
Is Poker in His Future?
Towards the end of 2016, he revealed his plans to play poker again in another
interview with Poker News, “I’m going to Vegas. There’s a World Poker Tour in
the beginning of December. Historically, I’ve done very well in that tournament.
I think they have a pretty good structure. Maybe I’ll have to breathe in and see
if I can turn things around.” Hansen didn’t place in that World Poker Tour event
and has yet to perform anywhere near as well as he had during his prime.
Hansen plans to continue to play poker whenever he can take time off of work.
Now that he doesn’t rely on poker as his main source of income, he can enjoy
playing the game and not have to worry about his performance. While he may not
be the same quality of player he once was, Hansen will still go down in history
as one of Denmark’s most talented poker players; the “Great Dane” of Poker’s
short-lived career will never be forgotten.
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