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Cates on durrrr Challenge: "I Guess It’ll Continue at Some Point"
Is it really still possible the perpetually-on-hiatus $1.5m durrrr Challenge will be completed?
Is there really such a thing as a "GTO dream machine" that some of the top high-stakes online poker players are using?
Are the high-stakes cash games in Macau still as juicy as they used to be or is Manila the new hotspot for million-dollar stacks?
Dan "Jungleman12" Cates, one of the best poker minds of the past decade, is himself a bit of a mystery, jet-setting around the world on a moment's notice to chase the planet's biggest cash games.
His world tour landed in Tbilisi, Georgia, this week for the surprisingly star-laden WSOP Circuit event where we caught up with him late on Day 2 of the main event for answers to those lingering questions.
The cash games weren't high enough for him so he graciously took a couple of minutes to talk with us.
PokerListings: Is the durrrr challenge ever going to end? Or even continue?
Dan “jungleman12” Cates: I don’t know. I hope it does. Tom says he wants to do it, and he acknowledges the penalties, so I guess it’ll continue at some point.
But he’s busy at the moment with some personal stuff, so I don’t know when.
PL: Is there an ultimate deadline to the challenge?
DC: No, but there should be. Maybe we should set one up. I still care about the challenge. I want to win it, I play to win.
Even if Dwan was neutral to me edgewise, there’s a lot of money in it for me to win.
PL: Big online challenges seem to have gone out of fashion, though.
DC: It’s tougher for big challenges to go on because it’s tougher to make money than back in the day.
PL: Is there anyone you would like to take on for a challenge?
DC: Maybe, but I’d have to think about it more thoroughly. I wouldn’t want to lay odds against someone unless I’m sure I’m going to win.
PL: What is this “GTO dream machine” you were talking about in the forums?
DC: A GTO dream machine? (laughs) I was just completely trolling. I just tried to get everyone on 2+2 all riled up.
A GTO dream machine would be something that tells you the GTO move in every situation. At least for PLO, I don’t think it exists. It was just a BS term I made up.
I think it was pretty obvious I was trolling.
PL: Talking about online poker, do you consider Viktor Blom a good player?
DC: Oh yes, he’s a good player. He’s one of the players who is very tough to beat if you take him on in his best games.
The difference between a great player and a very good player in terms of EV actually is much smaller than the difference between an average player versus a very bad player.
Edges have diminished and it takes more effort to get better today, which results in less money flying around, to put it in a few words.
PL: What can you tell us about the high-stakes cash games in Macau?
DC: Not too much, really. There are some very high private games, which is why I can’t talk about them.
I wanted to go back to Macau recently but then I decided to rather go to the LAPC and stuff. I will return to Macau though; I like it there a lot.
PL: OK, then tell us an interesting high-stakes hand.
DC: I was playing $300/$600 Stud against this really aggressive guy. He showed a four and I had a two, but I had jacks in the hole.
He bet, I raised, he completed and I called. On fourth street he gets an ace and I received a four. He leads out, and I’m not buying it at all, so I raise, but he re-raises me again. I call, obviously.
His next card is a four, so he has two open fours, and I get an eight or something completely worthless.
He bets, and I’m like 'ah, shit,' but then I thought, 'oh well, this guy is too crazy, I call.' Then he blind bets the river and I called him down.
He says: 'I have a pair of fours.' So put in tons and tons of bets with nothing. That’s how aggressive some guys play at this level.
PL: Adjarabet invited you to come here and play. Do you think this region has potential?
DC: Yes, I do. There might not be any big games here yet but it sure has potential. There are quite a few places that are still to open up, like India for example.
PL: Full tilt Poker is going to be a mere skin of PokerStars in the future. Is that the end of an era?
DC: Well, Full Tilt was dead ages ago. There are also fewer high-stakes games at PokerStars, so it seems that the games are dying.
There are still some on Microgaming but they aren’t as high as on PokerStars.
There are less fish today. Many of them left because they ran out of money or whatever.
PL: You play high stakes live professionally. Yet, you seem to get angry sometimes. Is that a leak in your game?
DC: It could be, but it doesn’t necessarily harm my game. Normally I’m not angry very long, so in live poker it doesn’t matter because live poker is so slow.
It can be costly online because even if you only play one table it goes ten times faster. Also, I’m usually not angry about just one hand.
There would’ve been other things going on. It builds up for a while and then one hand sets me off, but it’s misleading to think I get angry just because of one thing.
PL: Do you have leaks in your game?
DC: There are a few things that I think I don’t do very well, and there are even more things I don’t do well in games I don’t know well.
So, yeah, I got leaks. Everyone has leaks. The thought of a perfect player would be insane.
PL: Who are the three best players today? You can name yourself.
DC: I’m not conceited enough to name myself, unfortunately.
Ben Tollerene is very good at PLO, and sauce123 (Ben Sulsky) has been doing very well lately, too.
And OTB_redbaron is very underrated. His approach to NLHE ring games is probably more correct than pretty much anyone else’s.
Ike Haxton is also very good. He does the math correctly, from what I understand.
PL: Is poker generally on a downward spiral?
DC: Live poker is still a lot softer than online, but it’s also a lot slower so it’s less likely to be efficient.
But the trend is going to continue unless there are more fish introduced. If for example India would come in, that would help.
PL: Where are you going from here?
DC: Either Hong Kong or somewhere in Europe.
(Ed note: At this point Dan has to leave as there is a student waiting for him online. Cates is not known to be a coach but he does make exceptions.)
PL: How much do you charge?
DC: That would depend on the level you play.
PL: Let’s say I play a fierce 10c/20c game.
PL: Okay, maybe you give me the example.
DC: $1,000/hour is a normal rate.
PL: And what level would I have to play to be on that price level?
DC: Probably $2/$4 or $3/$6.