PLAYER PROFILE – Gus Hansen, “The Great Dane”

There have also been many unforgettable players, each with unique playstyles, personalities, and results. Let’s take a closer look at a player known for all three: Gus Hansen, “The Great Dane.”

Player overview

The World Poker Tour (WPT) is one of the biggest tournaments, second only to the World Series of Poker. Gus Hansen is a Danish professional poker player with three World Poker Tour WPT titles and was the first-ever player to win three of them. He is one of five people in history to have accomplished this feat and has been inducted into the WPT Walk of Fame. 

He also has a WSOP bracelet and many wins in prestigious tournaments like the Aussie Millions championship. With over $10 million in live tournament winnings, he is an incredibly accomplished player, which led to his nickname, “The Great Dane,” in part, for his nationality.

At the table, he’s known for his hyper-aggressive and loose playstyle. He became known as “The Madman” among poker pros. This playstyle also made him a fan favorite on shows like Poker After Dark, where he competed against other household names like Daniel Negreanu

Unfortunately, Hansen’s explosive playstyle led to some extremely rough downswings. After losing over $20 million playing online poker in 2015, he decided to step back from poker, taking an extended break and pursuing a regular, 9-to-5 job as an accountant. 

While he made a few appearances after 2017 playing high-stakes cash games in Bobby’s Room and Poker After Dark, he has not had a significant tournament showing since then.

Gus Hansen

Early life

Gustav Hansen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 13, 1974. His mother nicknamed him Gus as a kid, and it stuck. He was remarkably close with his mom and homeschooled for most of his elementary years. 

As a teenager, Hansen welcomed three more siblings, providing for them due to the considerable age gap. While his parents worked overtime, he helped out around the house and cared for his siblings. 

When Hansen started high school, his father taught him backgammon. Instantly hooked, Hansen spent his whole summer learning the game. He even set up a school club to teach others how to play and hosted backgammon tournaments. Hansen was also proficient academically, receiving numerous scholarships for his math skills.

Because of this inclination towards math and scholarships, he went on to pursue an accounting degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It was there that he got his first taste of poker. Invited to a weekly Texas Holdem tournament, Hansen learned the game on the spot. His talent shone as he won that session despite not having any prior experience with poker. 

Hansen joined the military in 1995, playing pokggper against the other soldiers. He learned poker variants like Omaha and Razz and became obsessed with the game. After his service ended, he signed up for every tournament he could.


Poker career

Hansen first played in his WSOP in 1996 but was eliminated immediately. Knowing he had much to learn, he began experimenting with different strategies, hoping one would click. Eventually, he opted to take on the role of the “maniac,” a hyper-aggressive style with a focus on post-flop play. 

He was known for playing just about anything, famously saying, “I’ve raised with cards less attractive than what’s in my toilet after I took a dump in it.” This unique playstyle began working, with Hansen making a name for himself in Las Vegas. 

In 2002, he took the style to tournaments, bringing home a first-place finish at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas. With his first tournament cash, a $556,460 first-place finish, Hansen’s career was off to a hot start.

He followed that up with a win in the 2003 LA Poker Classic, taking home another first-place finish for over $500,000 and showing the world he wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. 

Between tournament wins, Hansen took up various business ventures, like creating a small online poker room called PokerChamps. However, maintaining it took valuable time away from playing, so he eventually sold the site to Betfair for over $15 million.

Gus placed third in the 2003 Bellagio Five-Diamond World Poker Classic in December, earning $276,426. He claimed a third WPT title a month later, winning the PCA for $455,780.

In 2005, he was invited to play in the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament in Las Vegas. Excited to test his skills against the cream of the crop, Hansen faced off against other legends like Brunson, Phil Ivey, and Chip Reese. His win stunned the poker community, cementing him as a world-class player.

Hansen joined the 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event, winning it for over 1.5 million Australian Dollars. As another one of his many side hustles, he wrote a book entitled Every Hand Revealed about his strategies and experiences in tournaments.

In April 2008, Hansen collected the most significant cash of his career after finishing second place in the WPT World Championship, Las Vegas, earning $1.7 million. 

In 2010, he won his first bracelet, and a cash prize of $444,925 at the WSOP Europe No Limit Hold’em – High Roller Heads-Up event. He took down the Poker Million IX for $1 million the same year.

The Downfall of a Legend

Hansen’s final major tournament score was at the 2012 Aussie Millions $250,000 No Limit Hold ’em Challenge. He finished third, earning $823,579. Sadly, he felt as though the game was moving past him. 

The overall skill level of players had increased significantly, and Hansen thought it was getting harder to catch up. Worsening his situation, his live poker strategies did not translate well online, leading to over $20 million in losses. With his hyper-aggressive playstyle faltering, he took up a job as an accountant to support himself financially. 

Though he has had some recent forays back into the world of poker, nothing matches his glory days. Nonetheless, he is still legendary for his insane playstyle and past successes.