Daniel “Jungleman12” Cates is a pro player from Bowie, Md. In 2010, he won more than $5 million from online poker, making him the biggest winner of the year. Today, he’s considered one of the best heads-up no-limit hold’em players in the world. Our Mike Owens caught up with Cates to discuss his start in poker and his rise to stardom.
Where is home for you now? I have a place in Watford, U.K., but I’m thinking of going to more Eastern Europe.
What have you been doing for the last year? Playing online and a ton of traveling. I’ve been to many places: Czech Republic, Australia, Austria, Thailand, Spain, etc. I’ve played on a couple of TV shows and done some seminars as well as made videos for Pokerstrategy.
In the beginning did you start playing cash games or SNGs, and on what site? SNGs, on Full Tilt Poker. I played SNGs for about eight or nine months and then, when I saw the potential to make money from heads-up, I switched to cash games. Since then I have played predominately cash games.
Did your parents accept your choice of career? Originally they were reticent and insisted I stay in school. But once the money started rolling in, they came around to the idea.
Have you been playing much live poker these days or just online? Mostly online, but if the game is right, of course, I will play live poker. I have played on a couple of TV shows recently. Once I return to Europe I will continue playing on PokerStars.
Who are the toughest opponents you’ve faced; is there anyone you generally try to avoid? Heads-up Ben Sulsky and (Viktor Blom) are some of the toughest I’ve played. I am not particularly keen on playing them at the highest stakes.
How about Phil Ivey? Phil Ivey is a very good opponent overall, although he does not specialize in heads-up games. I would play him heads-up, but I would be even more afraid of him in a ring game.
Do you find the level of skill at the nosebleeds stakes is a lot higher than mid stakes? Depends on the game. A funny thing happens once you get to nosebleeds: Players can be anywhere from really good to somewhat bad. There are no real fish at nosebleeds, however, if so they are extremely rare.
What do you like to do when not playing poker? Random adventures, going out with friends, exercise and, lately, yoga. I have also been trying improv lately. In the past, video games, but I have not had enough time for them lately.
What would it mean to you to get a World Series of Poker bracelet? It would mean something to add to my resume, but not much more.