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The high-stakes match that's dragged out over six years is still a thing according to Dan “Jungleman” Cates but fellow high-stakes pro Doug Polk calls it one of the most massive scams in poker history. Cates' opponent Tom Dwan is down over $1.2 million and is faced with the looming $1.5 million side bet he'll have to pay off should he lose the entire challenge. They've completed less than 20,000 of the proposed 50,000 hands, most of which were played prior to Black Friday. PokerListings has reported on the story repeatedly. In 2013 we uncovered the fact that Dwan agreed to a penalty system that would cost him more money if he didn't keep playing. In 2014 Cates told us the penalties had piled up to $300,000 and he hadn't been paid a cent. Years have gone by with Dwan reportedly in Macau playing in high-stakes live games and he recently popped up in promotional material for wealthy businessman Paul Phua's new poker coaching project. Cates replied to a critical tweet from Doug Polk calling the challenge a scam, breathing new life into the poker world's hopes that the battle with continue.
It's a high-stakes poker battle worth millions and it started more than six years ago but Dan “Jungleman” Cates says the durrrr Challenge against Tom Dwan will continue in 2017.
Cates tweeted: “Tom Dwan and I have been talking about this and working on a resolution. We should get some hands this year.”
That was in response to a tweet from Cates' fellow high-stakes poker pro Doug Polk who said, “Just a casual reminder to everyone that the Tom Dwan Challenge against Jungleman was one of the most massive scams in poker history.”
To understand what Polk is talking about we have rewind all the way back to before Black Friday when Dwan was one of the most visible and successful high-stakes players in the world.
It all started in 2009 when Tom Dwan issued a daring high-stakes challenge.
The terms were:
A minimum of 50,000 hands of either No-Limit Hold'em or Pot-Limit Omaha at stakes of at least $200/$400, heads-up, played online on at least four tables at the same time.
After 50,000 hands if Dwan was up $1 or more, his opponent would pay him a side bet of $500,000.
If Dwan's opponent was up after 50,000 hands, however, Dwan would pay him $1.5 million.
Finnish high-stakes pro Patrik Antonius was the first to step up and the two played almost 40,000 hands with Dwan winning more than $1.8 million.
Details were never released but that challenge ended with the poker community assuming Antonius had negotiated some kind of buyout with Dwan.
Then in August of 2010 Dan Cates accepted the challenge under the same terms: 50,000 hands of high-stakes heads-up poker with a $1.5 million side bet.
By the time Full Tilt was shut down on Black Friday in 2011 Dwan and Cates had played almost 20,000 hands with Cates up more than $1.2 million.
That's when the challenge hit a stand-still.
In the following years Dwan was seen less and less in the poker world.
Rumor had it he was in Macau playing in ultra-high-stakes live games. Many thought he was ducking Cates because he was broke or afraid of losing even more.
One thing was for sure, Dwan wasn't booking hands in the durrrr Challenge.
In 2013 Cates told PokerListings he had worked out a penalty system to motivate Dwan to play. The idea was, if Dwan didn't play he'd have to pay.
In 2014 Cates told PokerListings the penalties had piled up to $300,000 and Dwan hadn't paid him a cent.
Now, after three more years of very limited exposure to the poker world, Dwan popped up as a coach working on a new project by legendary high-stakes player Paul Phua who is a regular in the big games that brought Dwan to Macau in the first place.
And, according to Cates at least, he and Dwan have plans to continue the million-dollar Challenge that most in the poker world wrote off a long time ago.
Keep watching PokerListings.com for more on this story as it develops.