Dan Cates: "You Can Still Make a Profit But Margins Getting Thinner"

daniel cates 3
Still room for more GTO.

“It took me two years to move up to high stakes," Dan "Jungleman12" Cates told us just a couple of days ago in Prague.

"But it would definitely take me longer today to get to that stage," he lamented.

Cates is widely considered one of the best heads-up online poker players ever to sit in the games so if he's feeling the pinch it's obviously a much tougher game than it used to be.

The general level of play has become a lot higher, at all stakes, and it’s getting more and more difficult to find edges. In some games, Cates adds, it’s almost impossible.

Still, he says, all hope is not lost.

PokerListings: How do you survive in high-stakes games these days?

Dan Cates: The high-stakes games are still beatable because people still make mistakes, and people are lazy and whatever.

Cates Cyclops
Margins are thinner, even for the best.

You can still make a profit but the margins are getting thinner, and that means a lot.

There are a number of factors working in this theory of a predatory game. Even if it’s a zero-sum game it means that people have to lose.

And the house takes some money as well, which makes things worse.

There is a kind of natural selection that occurs and personally I don’t think you can last forever, unless you play more in private games.

PL: Being one of the few players playing high enough to be affected, what do you think of the rake changes at PokerStars?

DC: The way I understand it now is that if I were to get Supernova it would cost me between $70K and $80K, regarding my returns.

I don’t think they raised the rake on these levels but if they do it’d be quite a bit harder.

There are some games where I think the rake is already too high, like 2-7. PokerStars seem to think all these games are the same, or maybe not quite, but they don’t have an idea how to rake a game like 2-7 that has virtually no edge.

Especially if you compare it to Hold’em, which is a big-edge game, but also highly developed and explore, with a lot of software going round.

The difference between a small-edge game and a big-edge game is that in a small-edge game you can’t really beat someone who plays sensibly.

Screen shot 2015 12 11 at 9.31.45 AM
Big in Georgia.

However in a No-Limit game you can really crush someone if you work on your game. It’s a complicated, tough game, but people could play a lot closer to GTO [Game Theory Optimal] than they currently do.

PL: Would it still be interesting for you to be sponsored player? Adjarabet maybe?

DC: I would probably do that although I think the market for that kind of sponsorship isn’t very good right now.

It would depend on the terms, but it would be reasonable.

PL: In Prague you missed a high roller event at the EPT to play cash games.

DC: I prefer cash games because for once I’m not that good at tournaments.

Tournaments like the Super High Roller have so much variance and I’m not used to ICM in particular, and how that influences the game.

I’ve definitely made some mistakes in that area…

(At this moment Jason Mercier walks by)

It’s ironic, there’s Mercier. So, that’s one reason. The other one is in tournaments you’re going to bust 80% of the time even if you’re a ****ing god.

Jason Mercier Champion
Tourney kings a special breed.

If you’re just good, you’ll bust 85%. And even if you cash most of the time you barely make any profit. And it’s so brutal to wake up at 12 o’clock and then sit there for 12 hours every day.

I just hate it. Even if you’re the best player in the world you could easily not cash for two years if you run bad.

You can only play maybe 150 tournaments per year, and that’s such a small sample.

A cash game is a pain for other reasons but you win quite often, and you can control how long you’re going to play. Two of the many reasons why I prefer cash games.

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