Poker World Mourns Passing of Norwegian Poker Legend Thor Hansen

Thor Hansen

Thor Hansen, known to many as the The Godfather of Norwegian Poker, has passed away following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was aged 71, and leaves behind his wife of two decades Marcella Braswell, whom Norwegian online poker site Poker.No said “became his girlfriend, his wife, and best friend.”

Hansen was originally diagnosed with terminal cancer back in 2012, and was only given three months to live. While Hansen apparently commented that “it was fun while it lasted”, Braswell was not so ready to give up on his chances. Ongoing chemotherapy treatment subsequently resulted in his health holding up for several more years, giving him more time to spend with his family and friends, as well playing the game he loved so well.

Illustrious Poker Career

Born in Oslo on June 23, 1947, Thor Hansen was a talented professional poker player who had a life long love of the card game. As he once explained during a Club Poker interview:

“Poker came naturally to me. I never thought about what I was going to become. Poker just meant so much to me so quickly, I never thought about anything else.”

Hansen was a role model for his fellow countrymen, and was one of the original Scandinavian pioneers to travel each year to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. In 1987, Hansen reached the final table of three WSOP tournaments, and eventually took down the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud event for $158,000 to capture a career first bracelet.

In 2002, Hansen repeated the feat after triumphing at the $1,500 WSOP No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball event for $62,600, with his two bracelet tally making him Norway’s most successful WSOP winner ever. The only two other Norwegians to have won a bracelet are Sigurd Andreas Eskeland, and Annette Obrestad.

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In March, Hansen cashed for the last time at the Irish Poker Open & Norwegian Championships in Dublin, and throughout his career amassed $2,948,645 in live winnings. His biggest score, however, was recorded at the 2007 WSOP after finishing the $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E event in 8th place for $188,256. On Norway’s ‘All Time Money List’, just Felix Vincent Stephensen ($5,817,543), and Annette Obrestad ($3,942,232) have earned more than Hansen.

Poker Community Reaction

Hansen was a friendly and much-loved man who touched the lives of all those he met. This includes not only in his native Norway, but also in his second home in the US, as well as the many events he attended throughout a career spanning more than three decades.

The poker community has since been giving their reaction to the sad news, with UK pro Barny Boatman describing him as an “International Treasure,” and Josh Arieh saying that “Thor wanted to talk to everyone” and that “no one was a stranger to Thor.” Other players sharing their memories of Hansen include Sorel Mizzi, who called him “a light-hearted, kind, and gentle person,” and Phil Helmuth, who tweeted that the poker world had lost “a great human being and a great player.”

Thor Hansen was also greatly respected and liked by the media, reporters and journalists within the industry. Irish author and gambler Nolan Dalla, for instance, who had met Hansen hundreds of times in Las Vegas, had these words to say about the Norwegian poker legend:

“Thor was one of the kindest, most decent, most honest, most universally beloved players ever to play this game. I’m having trouble composing my thoughts. So many fond memories of this wonderful man.”

Similarly, Christian Zetzsche, a live poker reporter, expressed his sadness over Hansen’s passing, and said that he had  always greeted the poker media with a “handshake and short story.”

“Very sad to hear that Thor Hansen has passed away,” commented Zetzsche. “A rare old school gentleman at the poker tables, always smiling, gentle and kind to everyone.”