Top 5 Poker Stories of 2010: The Emergence of Dan “Jungleman12” Cates

Dan Cates
'This year I've run pretty good.'

It was another big year for the game of poker in 2010 and the PokerListings news team was there to document it all.

From highs like Jonathan Duhamel's 2010 WSOP Main Event win to lows like Amir Vahedi's untimely passing, the year was filled with stories big and small.

As has become tradition, PokerListings will spend the final week of 2010 counting down the top five stories of the year the way only we can - with the thoughts, words and opinions of the protagonists.

We continue today with the emergence of Dan “Jungleman12” Cates at Number 2.

Names like durrrr, Ziigmund, Patrik Antonius, Gus Hansen and Phil Ivey may have dominated the high-stakes headlines in 2010, but only one player has truly dominated the games.

Dan “Jungleman12” Cates, a young man from Bowie, Virginia, who turned 21 just a few weeks ago, has earned close to $5 million playing online poker this year taking on the game's best players at the highest stakes - not bad for a kid who was working at McDonald's three years ago.

The University of Maryland Eco-Sci major's first foray into poker was less than successful.

In the summer of 2007, Cates started playing low stakes live with a rather shady group of characters and managed to dump about $3k, losing almost every session.

He kept playing, and losing, until his parents realized the depth of his degeneracy and froze his savings account. But that wasn't about to stop Cates.

He borrowed money from one of the regulars in the game, kept playing, and losing, until he was forced to get a job to pay off the debts and keep himself in the game.

McDonald's was the quickest and easiest choice.

Once his debts were paid, the player who loaned Cates the money helped him start an account online.

He lost his first few buy ins, but with the help of a few poker books and a move down in stakes that helped him perfect his craft against players at his level, eventually Cates starting winning and hasn't really stopped.

“It cost me a lot of money because I wasn’t really playing within my bankroll,” he said. “I wasn’t playing at a level I was competent at and I had to get a job just to keep it going. What turned it around was not playing live against players that were better than me.”

He started small online, but just kept decreasing his mistakes and increasing the stakes until he found himself a regular in the Internet's biggest games.

Now he is absolutely dominating them.

Although he found himself down close to $20k in early January, Cates has managed to play through the entire year without any major downswings on the way to a peak profit of $5.3 million earlier this month.

He's posted a few losing sessions in December, but with just days to go until the end of 2010, he sits with $4.9 million in earnings at the top of the high stakes heap.

“This year I've run pretty good,” he said. “I lost $200k to Isildur1 one day, but since then things have been going relatively smoothly.”

Tom “durrrr” Dwan has been a regular Cates victim, and even through he has yet to finish the first stage of the durrrr Challenge with Antonius, he decided this summer that Cates would be the second player to put up $500k at 3:1 to play 50,000-hands heads-up against him.

Whether or not to take on durrrr appeared to be a no-brainer for Cates.

“It seemed like I had an edge and even a glimpse of an edge given the 3:1 odds, it seemed like it would be a good decision for me,” he said.

The two began playing in August with Cates getting off to a rather fast start. Now 14,190 hands in, he's up slighty more than half a million dollars.

“I'm really confident,” said Cates. “I really like the way it's going. I mean, it's better than I predicted.”

Cates played at the 2010 World Series of Poker Europe in London this Fall and now 21, he says he'll likely play a few more live tournaments in the United States as well.

But after earning more than anyone else in the high stakes games this year, continuing to lead the second stage of the durrrr Challenge and grabbing the second spot on PokerListings' Top Five Stories of 2010, we expect to see even more of the name Jungleman12 online in 2011.

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