In People magazine’s December 2004 issue, Gus Hansen was voted one of the 50 sexiest men alive. He was in good company with the likes of Jude Law, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Jimmy Smits, Donald Trump, Blair Underwood, and Bruce Willis, to name a few.
What does he think of such recognition? Gus smiled, shrugged nonchalantly, and said, “It is pretty cool, but it’s not a life-changing event. I’m still little ol’ me. Sometimes things that happen are random coincidences with effort and skill involved in the mix. It’s all good.”
Gus is easy-going, comfortable with himself, charming, a total flirt, philosophical about life, and, mostly, easy to like. He’s fun; he smiles easily and has no pretenses.
“I Have a Gus”
In 1993, Gus moved from his native land, Copenhagen, Denmark, to Santa Cruz, California, where he lived for a few years. “I started playing poker in Santa Cruz. I saw one guy who always seemed to be winning. He helped me out a little. He was a good player for the game that was there, and he did funky, unconventional things. I said to myself, if he can do it, why can’t I?
“I have always liked to try out new things and test the waters. Maybe it is ridiculous, but I don’t like to exclude anything from my game plan. Every option is an option. Nothing is off-limits. Sometimes I would try something and then overdo it. So, in Santa Cruz, when I would overdo it and show some garbage hand, it became known as a ‘Gus.’ When someone would win with a funky hand, he would turn it over and say, ‘I have a Gus.’”
Military Service by Lottery
“In 1995, I went back to Denmark, where I had to sign up for the possibility of military service. It’s actually a lottery. You pick a number; if it’s a low number, you’re in, but the thing is, it’s only for nine months. Personally, I think it was a good point in time for me to be in the service. I may have needed a break from my gambling career to get back to real life.
“If I had to do it over again, I’m not sure the service was a bad thing. When you pick a real low number, you can choose what part of the service you want to be in. I chose the civil part, where I learned about first aid, fire hoses, helping people in emergencies, and even dragging people out of burning buildings. It was a good experience at the right time.”
Gus is a world-class backgammon player, having won tournaments and big matches. “After the service, I went to New York to play backgammon and gin. In Denmark, I could play backgammon for only small money. I liked New York and the competition I found there.
“I don’t usually …