Copenhagen has a list of great sportsmen as long as Peter Schmeichel’s arm and the city is no stranger to entrepreneurship. So on 13 February 1974 it was fitting that a young man named Gus Hansen was born just outside of the Danish capital. Now living in Monaco, it’s been a sharp rise to fame for the man known as The Great Dane. He has combined the city’s fine sporting tradition with a directive that has made him a multi-millionaire and a recognizable face across the globe.
That sport is poker, and, well, Gus Hansen is rather good at it
Gus Hansen’s story is a fascinating narrative, and one that highlights many of the attributes required to achieve success in anyfield. Having succeeded in the diverse fields of sport, poker and entrepreneurship, he provides an example to anyone with a desire to succeed and thrive in a constantly changing world. So who exactly is Gus Hansen, and what can be learned from his career and success?
The Importance of Change and Adaptability
The 40-year-old has never been short of sporting prowess. He was already a world-class backgammon player before turning to poker, as well as a champion tennis player. Like US Open finalist Caroline Wozniaki – who he would become acquaintances with later on in life – Hansen was a junior tennis champion and developed a competitive streak early on, something he took into the tough world of professional poker and beyond.
After conquering backgammon, he spent much of his time in the online poker rooms, earning a reputation as one of the world’s most aggressive players in the game, making the decision to go pro in 1997 and quickly becoming one of the most recognizable faces on the poker scene. His backgammon strategy helped him tactically in the world of poker, and between 2002 and 2003 he started to establish himself as one of the top players with three World Poker Tour titles. His unique style stood out from the crowd, yet it was his shrewd business off the felt that led him into the world of celebrity.
Being a World Class Strategist and Entrepreneur
This combined with being an extremely attractive man - at least according to the readers of People who voted him amongst the Sexiest Men alive in 2004 - boosted his profile to no end and gave him opportunities to compete on TV poker shows such as High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark, appearing on them almost more than any other pro. With more money coming in, including his big $1,714,800 win in 2008, Hansen began to use that entrepreneurial spirit further, setting up a number of online business ventures that reportedly earned him millions.
As his chip stacks continued to grow so did his status, and in 2008 Hansen gave us an inside look into the mind of the Great Dane with his critically acclaimed book Every Hand Revealed. The book explored his thoughts and mind-set throughout his 2007 winning run in the Aussie Millions World Poker Tour event where he picked up $1.2 million. The book talks us through every hand played during his time in Sydney, revealing that his style was even more fascinating than originally thought.
Understanding Risk and Reward
His portrait of a man comfortable with taking risks gathered great interest and it wasn’t before long Hansen became a Full Tilt Pro, serving as an ambassador for the one of the biggest online poker brands in the world. Further fame followed which has continued over the years, and Hansen still makes headlines to this day. In recent years he’s been romantically linked with fellow Dane and tennis star Caroline Wozniaki; a relationship that was short-lived but certainly caught the eye of the media.
In a sport which is forever evolving with more and more online players building bankrolls and reputations, Hansen has stood the test of time, and thanks to his strategy both on the tables and off, the man from just outside Copenhagen remains one of the most intriguing characters in poker and business.
What can be learned from Gus Hansen’s Success?
While many of Gus Hansen’s achievements may have been earned with a unique and niche skill-set, he also boasts personal attributes that can be applied in many different fields and disciplines. Take adaptability, for example, which helped Hansen to move from backgammon to poker without compromising his level of success. By adopting the strategic and competitive elements of game play acquired through playing backgammon and combining these with an aggressive outlook, he adapted seamlessly to the world of poker and became almost immediately successful.
On another note, Hansen has displayed the kind of hunger, vision and entrepreneurial spirit that is crucial if you are to achieve ongoing success as an individual. Rather than being content with becoming wealthy, he was determined to build on this success and use it as a platform to branch out into new and even more lucrative markets. Alongside a willingness to take risks and push himself as far as humanly possible, this has enabled him to become one of the most versatile, successful and well-respected individuals in the world of sport.