Poker Mental Game & Planning

Dan 'Jungleman12' Cates Poker Strategy

1,937 Views 3 Comments on 26/12/17

'Jungleman12' is, without a doubt, one of the best currently active poker players and in this article, we're going to take a closer look at his poker game.

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Daniel 'jungleman12' Cates has to be in the running for the title of the most successful online cash game player of all time. Dan won over $10,000,000 playing the old Full Tilt high-stakes cash games and he added another $1,000,000 on top of that by playing in the games available on PokerStars. He's also widely regarded as one of the best heads-up specialists in the world.

What separates 'jungleman12' from players like Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan is the fact that Dan is still very much an active player. When it comes to the tournament results, Cates currently occupies the 200th place on the All-Time Money List with $4,839,670 in total earnings, though it's important to point out that 'jungleman12' was relatively late to the tournament party being primarily an online cash game grinder.

Still, Dan had some decent success in the EPT and WPT tournaments and while he doesn't have a WSOP bracelet to his name he certainly proved that he can be a successful tournament player. 'Jungleman12' is, without a doubt, one of the best currently active poker players and in this article, we're going to take a closer look at his poker game.

Bluffing Durrrr Like It's Nothing

One of the reasons why Dan is such an impressive player is the fact that he managed to beat a lot of top pros in order to get to where he is today. 'Jungleman12' is especially proficient at dispatching Tom 'durrrr' Dwan which is true both in the online and live environment. While both gentlemen were unable to finish their highly publicized online challenge, Cates managed to secure himself an impressive early lead, which is one of the reasons why poker fans are still talking about the 'durrrr challenge' seven years after it was announced. 

Going back to the hand linked above, Dan made a solid preflop call with a good hand given the circumstances. JTs plays great both against the ranges of limping recreational players and an aggressive player like Dwan who's capable of isolating the limper with a wide range of hands. Flop went check-check which was fairly standard for both players. 'Jungleman12' was out of position without the betting lead and Dwan had a decent amount of showdown value. While 'durrrr' would no doubt value bet against Richard Yong on this board texture he couldn't really hope to get more than one street of value from the range of hands Cates had in this spot. Given the straightforward nature of pre flop and flop play, Dan had a pretty good idea where he was in the hand and he decided to turn his original equity on the turn into a semi-bluff. Dwan was certainly a player capable of mixing his play up but the vast majority of his range in that spot had to consist of showdown value hands and draws.

Dan correctly recognized that and decided to apply the pressure which was a really good decision.

Trapping Phil Hellmuth

How often do you have the chance to witness a hand involving Phil Hellmuth where he isn't the one who's trapping another player at the table? 'Jungleman12' is a very aggressive player and given his average 4bet frequency he'd certainly fire off a 4bet with a hand like KK against almost every player.

However, Dan Cates is also capable of adjusting his game when the situation calls for it. There was a fair amount of needling going on at the table and so we might assume that Dan was a bit flustered and took an incorrect line because of that, but flatt calling a 3bet with KK made a lot of sense against a tight preflop player like Hellmuth who isn't exactly known for his light 3bet/4bet game. Flop play was a natural consequence of Cate's preflop approach and he decided to just smooth call a give Hellmuth a false sense of security. After the turn went check-check, 'jungleman12' had to go for a big value bet on the river and given Hellmuth's extensive history of talking himself into questionable calls in similar spots, this was certainly a good approach.

This time around, Phil managed to get away from the hand, in some part due to the pressure Scott Seiver and Antonio Esfandiari managed to put on him during the hand.

He Has Tom Dwan's Number

We opened this article with a hand between Tom Dwan and Dan Cates so it's only fitting to end it on one as well. The stop and go check/raise play with a decent amount of equity was the kind of play that made 'durrrr' so successful over the years and it worked like a charm against the vast majority of the opposition.

That said, 'jungleman12' is anything but your average grinder and he managed to see through that. Flopping a top pair with a relatively low stack to pot ratio certainly helped the matters, but there are players out there - even relatively good ones - who would've released this hand.

The fact that Dan took a good minute to make his decision was a proof that the spot was a lot tougher than it looked.



Matt VIP

Matt is predominantly a mental game and planning expert, with a terrific knowledge of science, meditation, practical methods of improvement and of course, a good level of poker skill! Look out for his strategy articles and follow him for his nobel-prize winning forum po ... Read More


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