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Thor Hansen - An Audience with the Godfather
Norwegian poker legend Thor Hansen is widely considered the most well-respected Scandinavian player in the world, so when PL.com was offered the chance to chat with Thor at the Day 1a dinner break of the 2008 PokerStars EPT Scandinavian Open, we grabbed it.
Read on to find out how the always-classy Hansen found play early on here in Copenhagen, Denmark, why there's also a dark side to the Scandinavian poker boom and how he's adjusted to the gung-ho aggressive style of play in this part of the world.
So, Thor, how is the day going so far?
My day started out pretty good. I went from $10,000 to $18,000 on the first level and then went down to $7,000 so it's a struggle right now, but it's early.
Daniel Negreanu just got moved to your table, did he not?
He did; finally he got somebody to talk to because he says the Scandinavian people don't talk too much. But he talks enough for everybody (laughs).
It was Daniel who presented you with a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2008 PokerStars Scandinavian Poker Awards last night. Congrats. An award like that has to be quite an honor?
Definitely! It was quite nice.
But a Lifetime Achievement Award Thor, the lifetime isn't over yet...
Absolutely not, I'm going to hang around a little bit longer.
People refer to you as the Godfather of Norwegian Poker and perhaps the biggest name in the history of Scandinavian poker. What are your thoughts on all these young players grabbing hold of the game here in this part of the world?
I think it's fun. I get to know all these young players and they are such good players. But we don't see the dark side of it. All the players sitting at home broke, losing tons of money online. We don't see it here live because the ones we meet here are the ones that have success. We know there's a dark side to it too, but that's the way it is with everything. There's always a dark side.
So what advice would you have for young players just entering the game? Should they stick to lower stakes?
Absolutely, any new player should play on lower levels for a long time before they actually decide they are good at this. It's easier to play small and the competition is not as tough. Then they can move up if they have success.
The young Scandinavians that have met with success come to the tables armed with a very aggressive style of play. Have you had to adjust your game to play against them?
I had to. I can't play No-Limit Hold 'em with these kids without making some adjustment to my game. In the past we didn't just play No-Limit. We played other games and actually No-Limit was a dying game 15 years back; nobody played it. So these kids are playing strictly No-Limit now and they know so much more and play so many more hands online. They do things right and they play without fear, so I adjusted my game. Sometimes I just sit back and wait for mistakes because they will make a lot of mistakes. They are not perfect, nobody is.
Have you had to start playing online a little more to keep up?
I've been playing online for small stakes. I would never play online high. I've been playing high-stakes live poker all my life and I'm not going to change that. Maybe one day I'll have to sit home and play online, but for now I won't.
Being such a popular star of the game in this part of the world, is there some added pressure playing in the Scandinavian Open?
No, I don't feel pressure in any poker tournament. You can go broke in just about any hand up there at any time so there is no pressure. I just play my game.
We've seen you on a number of EPT stops so far this year; any plans for the near future across the pond in North America?
Actually no, I am going to hang around the EPT in San Remo and the final in Monte Carlo and I go back and forth, but I probably won't play in any tournaments in the United States until the World Series. But I'll definitely be there.
We will definitely see you at the 2008 WSOP and good luck here in Copenhagen Thor; there are a lot of people rooting for you.
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Always a class act, Thor Hansen is a great representative for old- and new-school Scandinavian poker and a man all these young Scandinavians can easily look up to. He cashed 33rd in the recent 2008 EPT German Open and with his solid style of play netting him close to $20k in chips by the end of the day today, no one is betting against another cash here in his own backyard.