Daniel "jungleman12 / w00ki3z." Cates is an online phenomenon who has risen through the ranks and is considered by many as the best HUNL player in the world. A couple of weeks ago HighstakesDB had the opportunity to interview this fantastic player that has been absent from the highest stakes online for almost a year.
He is highly reputed and feared by everyone in poker and has won millions of dollars playing online. He is only 22 years old and has achieved all this success in just a few years. We have not seen or heard much from Daniel since Black Friday last year but I have had the opportunity of interviewing him in which he discusses his plans for the future, how he started and progressed in the game, the durrrr challenge, and the Full Tilt scandal amongst other interesting topics.
Hi Dan. Thank you for letting me interview you. We haven’t seen you playing the high stakes games on Pokerstars for the past few months. Are you currently busy with other activities and will we be seeing you play there in the near future?
- Hey. I am currently in Las Vegas for a bit where I will be playing some live cash games, both the mixed games in Bobby’s room and the big NLHE/PLO games. I definitely want to play on Stars as soon as possible so as soon as I get a reasonable amount of money transferred onto the site, you will see me playing the biggest games there. Its not that easy getting large amounts transferred onto a site but I do not want to talk about that in much detail. I am still playing a fair bit of poker but on European sites as I moved out of the United States after Black Friday.
Ok. I hope to see you playing there soon and its been a long time since a lot of people have been able to see you play. How are you finding the action on Euro sites and have you been doing well there? I understand that you live in London now; do you like it much there?
- I live just outside London actually in the suburbs where its more peaceful and quiet than central London. I like it a lot here and intend on staying here for the foreseeable future. Its a really nice place and I can still play online poker here unlike in USA. I enjoy playing on Euro sites especially as its definitely easier for me to get action there compared to how it was for me in the past on Full Tilt and Stars. Furthermore, there are many different European sites to play on so I can keep different usernames to avoid not getting action. The games are good in both NLHE and PLO, and I have done quite well so far, winning approximately $1.4 million since I started playing there which is less than a year ago.
Wow, that’s extremely impressive. You are able to crush everyone wherever you play. Will we be hearing about you playing more live cash games or tournaments in the future as there are a lot of good games in London although some are hard to get into as they are private? How about the big cash games in Macau as they are NLHE which is your preferred game?
- I would like to play in some of the big private games in London but unfortunately as you said, they are hard to get into, and who would want a high stakes pro playing with them haha. I have hardly played live in London since I moved there but in terms of live cash games, I hope to play in Macau soon because the games sound really interesting there and although I don’t like to play live too much, a no-limit game at those stakes is certainly appealing to me. I do not like playing too many tournaments but still play a fair few including the PCA and WSOP. I will also be playing in the Party Poker Premier League in April and after that finishes, I will most likely play in the Big Game VI.
It should be great to see you play in those events and I hope it all goes well for you then. Many of our readers have probably read a lot about you but for those who do not know how you started and progressed through the ranks, could you please explain how it happened? Did you have any major downswings along the way?
- I am not one of these players who started the game online by playing freerolls or making a $50 deposit and never looking back. That said, I did start the playing online after most people who began this way. I initially started playing live with a regular group of people who I considered as friends but, in fact, they were scamming me and I lost a lot of money playing with them. It was at these games where I met my good friend, Scott “urnotindanger” Palmer who was one of the only guys who didn’t try to to scam me and actually tried to give me some good advice.
- I started playing online seriously at 17 with $50-$70 deposits then eventually after one of these $70 deposits, the rest is history. I played HU SnGs to begin with before moving $0.25/$0.50 HUNL cash and have grinded through. I did have a big downswing when playing Isildur1 who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and when we played for the first time on Full Tilt, I lost over $500,000 to him which was about half my bankroll. I had to move back down and grind back up which is obviously annoying but I was disciplined enough to do it. I have always set strict bankroll requirements in order to deal with variance, and have made sure that I have at least 50 buy-ins at the stake when taking a shot.
What is Scott doing at the moment and Haseeb, as I understand, is another good friend of yours. (I do not wish to speak about the Girah scandal with you because I believe that you have had to deal with too much bad press even though you lost a lot of money in the scandal.) Is it important to have a good group of poker friends?
- Scott and Haseeb are great friends of mine and I have spoken to them a lot regarding different situations. Scott is actually not playing poker at the moment and is instead focusing on strategy video games which he hopes to play professionally soon. It would not, however, surprise me too much if he decides to start playing poker again soon. I definitely think that its important to have some close friends in the poker world who you can talk to about different opponents, strategy, etc. It doesn’t have to be with players playing at the same stakes as you but getting various opinions allows you to perceive different understandings of the game.
I think that other players have said things along the same line as that as well. Will you play anyone heads-up at NL and PLO at any stakes online?
- I will play anyone heads-up at both NLHE and PLO but not at any stake. I hate variance so will play any player at $50/$100 but not at $200/$400. I will still play my optimal game even if I am playing as high as lets say $500/$1000 and I ignore the amount of money involved whilst playing; if I have to make a $100k+ bluff because I think its the correct play in that particular spot, I wouldn’t think for a moment that this money could buy me a nice car or something.
That fully makes sense and its amazing how players like you can desensitize yourself from the amount of money involved, but that’s probably needed in order to become a successful high stakes player. Another player who has that attribute is Tom “durrrr” Dwan who you battled in the durrrr challenge. (Daniel is up $1.25 million in the 19k hands played so far out of the 50k hands). Why did you take the challenge and what is the current status of it?
- I thought I had an edge against him so decided to step forward for the challenge, and with him laying 3-1, it was a great offer. I am happy to continue and finish the challenge as soon as possible and to be honest, I really want to complete it. A deal hasn’t been discussed yet and Tom doesn’t seem to eager to continue at the moment. I hope he agrees to complete it soon.
It was a great match so far and hope you two can arrange a date soon to start playing again. It has been widely rumoured on the internet that you had the most money stuck on Full Tilt in the seven figure range. What do you think of the Full Tilt situation and are you hopeful in getting your money back?
- I do not want to talk any numbers but all I will say is that its a lot. I believe that any organisation which receives player deposits should obviously have all of that money secure so its extremely poor management to not have that protocol in place as it is commonsense. I am still hoping that the Black Friday issues get resolved and am hoping to get my money back from Full Tilt; I have a fair bit stuck on UB as well which I am not optimistic about. I do not think about it too much nowadays because there is not much I can do and the stress of the situation has reduced over time.
You mentioned earlier about your battle against Isildur1 on Full Tilt which didn’t end well for you. You played him in the SuperStar Showdown after that in which you lost $51k. Will you be playing him when you start playing on Stars again?
- Definitely! I will battle him in the Showdown when I am back on Stars and really want to play him. It is more of an ego and pride thing rather than me thinking that I am significantly plus EV against him. I feel that its time for me to beat him now. Nevertheless, I rate him as the toughest opponent I have faced heads-up.
That should be an epic encounter and everyone in the poker world will certainly be looking forward to that. Thank you for sparing your time to speak to me and good luck in Vegas and online.
- Thanks a lot and no problem.