After 15 years, over $11m in career live tourney earnings, dozens of million-dollar online swings and some of the most memorable hands in TV poker history, is it even possible to imagine a poker world without Gus Hansen?
One of poker's all-time most popular players, Hansen both won over and keeps his fans with an aggressive, go-for-broke style that, for better or worse, always keeps things interesting at the tables.
In the case of his most recent online downswing, it's definitely been for the worse for Gus lately but that never stops him coming back for more. And his fans can never get enough of it.
In London for the EPT main event and the PokerStars vs. Full Tilt Challenge, Hansen took some time to chat with our colleague Thomas Hviid from PokerListings Denmark about his reincarnation as an FTP pro, what he needs to get back on track and crushing online and his future in the game.
PokerListings.com: You're back with Full Tilt Poker. How is it to be back?
Gus Hansen: It's great to be back, I've always enjoyed the software, the playing experience and all.
But as most people how I’ve been doing absolutely horrible online the last couple of months so that part of it has been pretty messed up. So it's a mixed feeling.
PL: In December you stated that one of the reasons why it has not gone so well for you was because there had been too many distractions to draw your attention away from poker. How have you dealt with it?
GH: It is pretty obvious that I have not dealt with it very well since I haven’t been able to change the losing streak around.
I would answer a bit the same way that I have not put enough effort in to it and been a bit too sloppy and not focused enough.
I have basically not taken it seriously enough and you cannot play against the best players in the world without being serious about it and bringing your A-game.
Hopefully I can change it around.
PL: Compared to when Full Tilt Poker was online two years ago, how have the games developed?
GH: Obviously, since I didn’t play online for a year and a half, it's hard to notice any change there. It looks like players have gotten better which is a natural development.
It all evolves, people get better at playing sports, they jump higher, run faster and they also get better at playing poker.
They have more tools to improve their play, there’s more literature out, more forums where players can discuss and chat, and that is all part of improving your game.
People are just much better than 10 years ago, and they are possibly also better than two years ago.
PL: Do you see where you need to improve your game at the moment?
GH: I still believe that I have a lot of good ideas for the different games, but with my recent curve it seems like I haven’t been able to implement any of it.
I think I might have to go back to the drawing table and analyze a bit more than I have done in the past in order to turn things around and get back on track.
PL: Are you familiar with the different analytical tools for poker, e.g. Holdem Manager?
GH: I am aware of them, familiar might be a bit too much to say. I’ve seen them, watched a friend of mine use them, but I have not yet started to use them.
It seems like everyone has started to use them so that might be the way to go.
PL: Do you discuss hands and strategies with your teammates, Viktor Blom and Tom Dwan?
GH: It depends, I think it is probably more the Team PokerStars way of doing things.
I would say that the three guys (Negreanu, ElkY and Haxton) are more analytical and put more effort into the preparation of the match, where we (FTP) might be a bit more hands-on and just sit down and play at the table.
But I do believe that preparation is a step in the right direction and obviously I have been discussing hands with Dwan and Isildur, but just not at the same level as our opponents.
PL: How well do you know your two teammates?
GH: I have known Tom Dwan for – I don’t even remember when he burst onto the scene – for at least a handful of years.
And Viktor and I are from the same neck of the world, he is from Sweden, I am from Denmark and speak Swedish, so in that sense is it easy to talk.
When we meet up we talk in Swedish and sometimes in English, and he is a nice guy. We have actually been talking about analyzing a bit more our play.
PL: Is the “old” Full Tilt Poker now a done chapter for you?
GH: It was a good day for poker when PokerStars stepped in and basically made sure that players got paid.
There are still some difficulties in the US, but I think you have to ask some questions to the DoJ. Today I consider it pretty much a done deal and an old chapter which you obviously have to learn from and not forget the mistakes that were made, but you also have to move on.
PL: In an interview with PokerListings during the WSOP in the summer you said that you didn't believe Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson had willingly committed any foul play. Do you still believe the same?
GH: Yes, I think I said back then that Howard and Chris were guilty of neglect. Although I was never at a board meeting and was a silent investor, I should maybe myself have seen some red flags being raised.
So in some ways I also feel that I am guilty of neglect. I think the shareholders were guilty of neglect, but there is a big difference of overlooking something or not being aware of something and then to maliciously do all kinds of criminal stuff.
Chris Ferguson is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and I have known Howard for many years so it is a bit weird to see them being out of it now.
PL: Will we see you play more EPTs now that you're a Full Tilt Poker pro again?
GH: I am at the EPT London right now and playing the Main Event tomorrow, and I know that I will play in Berlin and for sure in Monaco, my home town.
Apart from that, I haven’t picked any other tournaments out but let’s see. Obviously, If I have a good result here and I get a bit more excited then maybe I should play more of these, but if I get knocked out after the second level then I might say “Ah, I don’t really like these tournaments."
Sometimes you roll with the punches and you play a bit more when it is going well.
PL: Do you also plan to play the WSOP this year?
GH: Yes. I haven’t looked at the schedule and which tournaments I will play and which I will not, but I will definitely be there.
PL: And will we also hear about you playing in Macau this year?
GH: I have no plans right now but I will be very surprised if I do not stop by at some point this year. I was there already earlier this year for a short stay.
PL: You are also very interested in racketlon and tennis, you recently played bridge against the Danish prince Henrik and you also enjoy playing backgammon. Is poker as important in your life for you now compared to some years ago?
GH: Yes, poker is what I do, I am part of the Full Tilt team. I do a lot of other stuff like bridge and racketlon, but that is more on an amateur basis.
PL: Do you think you will ever end up like Theo and live in a villa in Greve (a suburb to Copenhagen) and have a family and a puppy?
GH: Definitely not Greve since I am from the central part of Copenhagen! But there is a good chance that I might move back to Denmark within the next five years.
That is where I am born and raised, and I have a lot of good friends there. So there is a good chance that you will see me back in Denmark in the near future.
PL: Will you also be in poker in five years?
GH: I would be surprised if I was not.