The world of poker woke up on Wednesday to the tremendously saddening news that one of the true legends of the game, Norwegian Thor Hansen, had passed away after battling cancer for several years. Hansen was 71 years old and passed at some point on the evening or morning of December 4 or December 5.
Legendary Career in the Poker World
Hansen was one of the men who truly brought poker to Europe and the Scandinavian countries. His first recorded cash was in January 1987, where he made three final tables at the Grand Prix of Poker to announce his arrival on the tournament poker scene. The very next year, Hansen would win the first of two World Series of Poker bracelets by taking down the $5000 Seven Card Stud event that year. Over the next 38 years until his final appearance at the WSOP in 2015, Hansen was able to win two bracelets, cashed in 55 events and earned over $1.2 million in career earnings (stats courtesy of WSOP.com).
But Hansen traveled the world to play the game. Even after his cancer diagnosis, Hansen continued to be an ambassador for the game. He would stay closer to home after the diagnosis in 2012, playing on the European Poker Tour and in Scandinavian championships. His final two cashes in his poker career came at the Norwegian Championships in Oslo in November 2017 and the Norwegian Open, run as a part of the Irish Poker Open in March 2018. All totaled, Hansen earned nearly $3 million ($2,949,644, courtesy of the Hendon Mob database) and untold amounts of adoration from the poker world.
Poker Community Shares Remembrances
The poker world, one that doesn’t agree on much, was effervescent in its remembrances of the great Norwegian pro. It is well known that Hansen was the source for one of poker’s greatest quotes that dates back to a tournament on the World Poker Tour. Leading in an event, a reporter asked him what he would do with the money if he won. Hansen stated that he would pay off a few debts. The reporter then said, “What will you do with the rest,” (in reference to how the reporter thought there would be money left over) and Hansen deadpanned, “They’ll have to wait.”
Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton sounded off with his thoughts regarding Hansen on Twitter:
Thor Hansen was one of the most respected, beloved poker players in history. His behavior at the table was impeccable – never berated dealers, never criticized other players, & never whined about bad beats. Everyone ♥️ him. 1st WSOP bracelet winner from Norway (‘88). #icon #RIP
— Mike Sexton (@Mike_partypoker) December 5, 2018
While Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy remembered the first time he met the Norwegian legend:
I distinctly remember the 1st time I met Thor Hansen in 2005. He made me smile then, and every single time I saw him subsequently. Just listening to him talk made me happy. He was a true gentleman and a sweetheart. He will be missed #RIPThor
— Cliff Josephy (@JohnnyBaxPoker) December 5, 2018
Another legendary veteran of the game, Irish poker player Padraig Parkinson, offered his thoughts:
@Mike_partypoker @nolandalla Saddened to hear @ThorHansen47 has finally lost his battle with cancer which defied logic and is an inspiration to others facing impossible odds and he did it with a smile.Great memories of breakfasts @Irish Open with Thor,Mike,DonODea and Dan.
— Padraig Parkinson (@padraigpoker) December 5, 2018
Former WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla also shared another thought from Parkinson on his Facebook feed. “I know Thor would love this story, it was just posted by Padraig Parkinson, his spiritual twin from Ireland.” Nolan related. “As many know, Thor battled cancer for several years. Although weak, he always seemed to fight it, and was in as good a spirits as one could be under the circumstances. Thor never once moaned or complained. Not once. Anyway, Padraig speculated on what gave Thor such vitality being able to battle the dreaded cancer for so long. Padraig surmised…“it must have been playing a short stack in so many tournaments over the years.” Funny. Thor is laughing somewhere hearing that wisecrack.”
Hansen indeed was one of the legends of the game of poker. He is deserved of a place in the Poker Hall of Fame and, in all likelihood, should have been inducted many years ago and been the first European (and first Scandinavian) player ever enshrined in the Hall. Because of the U. S.-centric base of the Hall, however, he wasn’t able to crack through (he also was only nominated ONCE, in 2017). Hansen brought the game to another part of the world, and they learned to love it as much as any American ever has but never as much as Hansen did.
Poker News Daily would like to pass along our condolences to the family and friends of Thor at this saddening time.