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Daniel Cates Says it All - The Jungleman Story Part 2

Daniel Cates Says it All The Jungleman Story Part 2

In the first part of this series we've got to know Daniel Cates, a high stakes poker player who started his career out as a loner in school. Today, in the second and final part, Cates tells us about some of the more frustrating and shocking things he had to go through as a poker player.

The man known online as Jungleman was left unpaid by another high stakes player who owes him $1.9 million up until today, and besides that he speaks openly about the ongoing Durrr Challenge that is still very far from being completed. On top of all of this Cates also has something to say about David 'Viffer' Peat who he's got a large side action with.

Being Owed $1,900,000

“There was a situation where I got screwed over for a very large amount of money from David Lerner. His online name is PerkyShmerky and he’s the biggest scumbag in the history of the world. He cross-booked me online when I played him, even though I didn’t know who he was at the time. We played $3/$6 and cross-booked so it was $300/$600 and during the first session he beat me for like $460,000,” Cates said.

“Like a dumbass I snap-shipped the money to him and in the next session I completely destroyed him for $1,100,000. I told him to send back the money, which he didn’t, and later I saw him multi accounting on Tibster24’s account. I told him, ‘why the fuck are you playing with that money’ and eventually I managed to get him on the phone. Surprisingly he sent me some money back, about $250,000, but he did not send any more. He kept making excuses saying that he was forced to play, and what I should’ve done was call Full Tilt and have them lock the accounts. It eventually comes down to this, he didn’t pay me any more money and later it turned out he scammed a lot of other people too, for millions in total. If he pays up everything he owes I would get about $1.9 million from him,” Cates said.

“Right now I know who I can and can’t trust,” Cates said, reflecting on this horrible situation. One of the players he definitely does not trust is Joe “BigEgypt” Elpayaa, as Cates told us the following story about one of his first times in Las Vegas.

“When I went to Las Vegas for the first time I was 20 and stayed with WCGrider. We played some live poker and I got caught playing underage. Joe ‘BigEgypt’ Elpayaa outed me at the table after losing a big pot to me, even though he said he would cash out my part of the money. The pot was $10,000 and he said he needed the money back, which is a total scumbag move in my opinion. Because of that situation I lost about $30,000 and most of that money I never got back. The biggest mistake I made was telling him at the table that I was Jungleman,” Cates sighed.

“I don’t think he has any money these days so whatever,” Cates added after about a second emphasizing that despite all the bad things that happened to him, he’s still doing all right himself.

When you think the bad news over, it’s easy to forget that Cates was among the biggest winners on Full Tilt Poker right before Black Friday happened. Cates had a large sum of money on FTP and he’s still trying to recover from it.

Black Friday

“For me it was just a major inconvenience when Black Friday happened. The difficult part was setting up accounts and getting money on there,” Cates said.

“At the time, when Black Friday happened, I had a little less than 80% of my net worth on Full Tilt Poker. I did manage to withdraw a lot of money, and I was nowhere near poor because I had some other things going for me as well. While a lot of my money was locked up, it wasn’t like I couldn’t do anything. It was a major inconvenience, but we never thought the money would be gone. There was always a pretty good chance we would get our money back, but just a lot lower than we thought. Supposedly we’re getting our money back sometime in 2014, but I know as much as everyone else. I have a lot riding on getting that money back, it’s just very unfortunate that I can’t do anything about it,” Cates said.

Besides his locked up money, the Durrr Challenge also got postponed some more because of Black Friday. While Cates had grabbed a sizable lead in the summer of 2010 there were still plenty of hands to be played.

Durrrr Challenge

“Tom was already not playing me for a long time before Black Friday. He played me a lot in the summer before, in which he lost a lot of money. He seemed to have decided that he didn’t want to focus on it while I was pushing him to play the entire time. Black Friday made things a lot more difficult for me. We were talking about playing again; he was saying how he wanted to wait for PokerStars to buy the challenge and how he needed to go overseas in order to play. Nothing ended up happening with that, which was really annoying for me,” Cates said.

“To cut a long story short, he keeps promising to play without doing it. Now there’s a penalty system in place and he needs to pay $40,000 for every two months he doesn’t play. If one of us doesn’t play for that long the penalty increases, and so on every two months,” Cates added.

“I think he (Tom) means well, but he’s very irresponsible. He’s extremely unreliable even while his intentions are good. He does respond to my messages a reasonable amount of the time, which is still 75% less than most people but high stakes poker players in particular are very hard to get a hold of. What’s more irritating is that it’s very hard to get him to do what he says he’s going to do. He constantly keeps saying that he’s going to play, but it never happens. Just one time he did play, but after that nothing again for a long time,” Cates said about the Challenge that was supposed to be completed in 18 months the first time it was set.

A lot of people might’ve forgotten about it at this point, but the Durrrr Challenge once started as something very exciting. Tom Dwan was offering 3:1 for every player, except for Phil Galfond, to play him heads up for 50,000 hands at $200/$400 No Limit Hold’em. In case Cates ends up winning the challenge he will receive an additional $1,500,000 from Dwan.

“He told me that Phil Ivey guaranteed the $1,500,000, but I want to ask Ivey about that. At this point I don’t know if I want to believe that. I escrowed $500,000 a while ago, but I got that money back. If I win, in the current situation, I don’t know what the hell is going to happen. It’s really irritating because it’s the biggest freeroll ever. Also, that fucking Viffer guy is trying to weasel out of his bet,” Cates said.

Daniel Cates

The Side Action With Viffer

Cates cross-booked 20% of the Durrrr Challenge action with Viffer and bet an additional $50,000 to Viffer’s $62,000 on the side.

“He implied that I was faking messages I had received from him. I posted a message on TwoPlusTwo and that was his response, which is the biggest sign that someone’s a scumbag. To even imply this, you have to be such a scumbag and I think even Durrrr thinks Viffer is way out of line,” Cates said.

“Throughout the entire bet Viffer’s just been weird. I thought we agreed on something and ever since he’s just been acting like a complete sociopath. When we were in Vegas he got a piece of me in some game I played through someone else, and I ended up winning. I paid him and after that he told me he was not going to pay me for the Durrrr Challenge. After that we bet on what Haralabos Voulgaris would say about his decision not to pay me. Haralabos immediately said that I won the bet. Haralabos said Viffer was out of line, and we ended up having a conversation about it. I told Viffer that settling the bet was going to cost him about 80% of the bet and at that point he just walked away,” Cates said.

“That number is actually very generous, but he told me not to talk to him until after the World Series. I was pretty sure he was scumbagging his way out of it again, but later he ended up texting me back saying my equity is not as good as I think it is. He also said that I would get paid if I won the Challenge, so I figured we had an agreement. Because of the chances of him weaseling out of it again I suggested an escrow, on which he basically responded that I should go fuck myself. He almost exactly used those words. Later on TwoPlusTwo he decided to post his argument and everyone responded that he’s wrong. He kept ignoring those people while he was arguing the same points over and over again,” Cates rehashed about this situation that’s clearly very far from being resolved.

“I don’t think Viffer’s broke, as I’ve heard he got money out of some lucky situation in the past. I have no idea how he’s making money now, because I don’t seem him getting into any good poker games with the way he’s acting. Some of my friends think he’s going to pay when it’s all said and done, but the more time goes by, the less likely it is I think,” Cates said.

Settling The Durrrr Challenge

“When it comes to the actual Challenge, I think we should settle. I don’t know what to do though, because he’s (Tom) not doing anything. I’m trying to be reasonable, but the guy is barely putting in any effort. I don’t think he’s consciously dragging it out hoping that I will give up, but I think he has rationalized reasons to drag it out. In his mind those things might be fair, but I don’t agree. With the new rules he’s paying me in case he doesn’t play, so I can’t fault him too much for that but it’s still kind of disrespectful,” Cates said.

It’s been noted before that Dwan plays in the big high stakes cash games in Macau. Dwan uses this as a reason not to play in the Durrrr Challenge, and Cates agrees that this is a valid reason. Cates on the other hand is playing a lot of heads up online poker and his skill level keeps rising while Dwan focuses on other things right now.

“I’ve gotten a lot better and I’ve worked on my game a lot recently. Besides the time in the US, I’ve been playing quite a lot of online heads up. This also makes it more difficult for him to play the Challenge, and therefor I would be fine with settling. I just want to do something, play or settle,” Cates said.

This raised the question how much the online star would settle for, and within a second he said the following.

“I think I should be paid over one million, that’s for sure.”

If we include the Durrrr Challenge, the bet with Viffer and this situation with PerkyShmerky there’s quite a lot of money still coming Cates’ way. If it all ever ends up getting squared away.

“It’s like I’m in limbo right now with all these things. It’s rather unfortunate, and the only good thing is that I have plenty of money. Right now though, I can’t play the stakes I was playing pre-Black Friday comfortably without selling a bit of action. People underestimate variance a lot, but I can play pretty high comfortably,” Cates said.

Daniel Cates

Live High Stakes Cash Games

When it comes to high stakes private live games there are, according to Cates, a lot less open for pros than people like to think.

“There aren’t just a lot of huge private live games all over the country where they are waiting for pros to sit down. If there were a lot of those you have to suspect there might be some shady stuff going on. People always like to talk about online poker being rigged, but live poker is far, and I mean far, more likely to be rigged. Live private games are 1,000 times more likely to be rigged than any PokerStars game. People just get upset over online bad beats because they heavily underestimate variance. If there is a good live game you have to be very well connected in order to get in,” Cates said.

Live pros are a little more likely to gamble and amateur players like that. Online players on the other hand are hunting for EV and that’s something they don’t like. I do play a little more loosely when I’m in such a game, but probably not even as much as I should. I don’t play nearly as loose as Tom does, but I think he’s too loose at times. It’s crazy being in those games too, because you just see rich businessman loaning each other millions of dollars and I’m not able to do any of that. I guess I’m just not that baller!” Cates laughed.

The game Cates refers to is the famous $2,000/$4,000 No Limit Hold’em game at Aria in which he got to play.

“I was not scared money at all in that game, even though I didn’t have a huge piece of myself. It was almost like the opposite because I wanted to prove myself. The game was pretty soft when I played, and I could only play after I waited for a very long time. That was the game in Aria where I just put my name on the list every day and eventually I got to play a session,” Cates said.

One of the high stakes poker legends is of course Dan Bilzerian, and Cates had a little interaction with him as well.

“In spite of what I heard about him, Dan Bilzerian seemed nice even though I can see why people think he’s an asshole. I didn’t get to play with him, but he was nice to me. He was hanging out with these Playboy playmates. I saw one of the sick suites they have, and together with the Playboy playmates it kind of shows how rich they really are. While all those things are very nice it’s not like I personally care a lot for them. Winning at poker means more to me than these things,” Cates said.

The Future

For 2014 Cates has set himself some lofty goals as well, despite waiting for his Full Tilt Poker money.

“I want to make mid seven-figures in 2014. Over 2013 I’ve made roughly what I had in mind before the year started, but I’ve lost some money with other things like buying action and stuff like that. Getting into great shape is a good goal as well, but I find it hard with all the traveling I’m doing. When it comes to poker I also want to to learn how to play mixed games.”

Photos courtesy of PokerNews.com. You can follow Daniel Cates on Twitter.

Interview by Remko Rinkema
Remko Rinkema - Igaming.org Interviewer

Remko Rinkema has covered the biggest poker tournaments in the world since 2008, including many WSOP, EPT, Aussie Millions, APPT, MCOP and Unibet Open events. As an in-depth interview and story enthusiast he tries to do things a little differently. Besides the usual writings Rinkema grabs every chance to appear on podcasts, live streams and in the occasional video.

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