Gus Hansen Riding the Wave of Positive Variance

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Gus Hansen

All poker players experience variance. According to, the definition of variance is “the state, quality, or fact of being variable, divergent, different, or anomalous.” When it comes to playing poker, variance is what causes a player to undergo long stretches of time as a winning player while also experiencing downswings even though the player plays essentially the same in both cases. Variance are the assorted peaks and valleys of a poker players career. These peaks and valleys vary greatly from person to person. A player who is not much of a risk-taker and plays more of a straightforward style will experience less volatility in their bottom line. Meanwhile, a player who is more prone to taking risks and gambling it up, will experience greater difference to their bottom line.

Right now, perhaps no other players in the world illustrate the second example than Gus Hansen and Isildur1. By now, everyone knows the legend of the still unconfirmed phenom that is Isildur1. Back in fall 2009, he burst on the scene and gobbled up a couple million dollars while cementing his name in the record books. So astonishing was his month long onslaught, that he was either the winner or loser of the 10 biggest pots in online poker history. For Isildur1, he personifies the essence of extreme variance.

For Hansen on the other hand, he has been mired in a cruel and slow downswing for the first 9 months of 2010. He has resided among the biggest money losers for most of the year, hitting his deepest valley two weeks ago when he reach $3.6 million in losses. However, it appears that Hansen is doing whatever he can to claw his way back to profitability. Riding this wave of positive variance, Hansen has rallied as late and is now $1.9 million in the red; marking the first time he has been down less than $2 million since late spring. Over the weekend, Hansen played over 3,000 hands at the Full Tilt nosebleed games, finishing up $280K.

While Hansen is on the rise, other players, such as Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies are on a decline. He was the Halloween weekend’s biggest loser, dropping a quarter of a million dollars.

Should Hansen make it all the way back, he may very well complete one of the greatest comebacks the online poker world has ever seen.