Daniel “Jungleman” Cates: Poker’s Version of Alexander the Great

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 011

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Daniel “Jungleman” Cates on social media:

Welcome back my friend to Chasing Poker Greatness, the podcast that brings you wisdom, insights, and inspiration from the greatest minds in the game of poker, all in their own words.

I’m your host and founder of Enhance Your Edge Brad Wilson, and in today’s episode, I have the pleasure of sitting down for a talk with an all-time poker legend and future hall of famer, Dan “Jungelman” Cates.

As poker’s version of Alexander the Great, Jungleman has conquered pretty much all there is to conquer in the poker world at the ripe old age of 29.

At 21 years old he accepted the “Durrr” challenge and blistered Mr. Dwan so badly that the challenge still hasn’t been completed 9 years later.

He’s racked up $7 million+ in poker tournament winnings despite spending the majority of his time battling in high stakes cash games where he most likely employees a dragon or 2 to guard the entrance to the vault of riches he’s won in said games.

He’s been documented in playing as big as $6k/$12k in Bobby’s room but I think I can safely say that where there exists the biggest cash game in the world … there’s almost always a Jungleman lurking

He is, without a doubt, one of the most feared poker and respected players in the game today. 

During our conversation you’ll learn:

– The concept of “reverse game selection” and how Jungleman used the tactic as rocket fuel to surge through the online ranks.

– The importance of overcoming your emotions that cloud your logic and

– Why working by yourself is inferior to using the knowledge of other people

And much much more!

So sit back, listen, and learn how an introverted 17-year-old kid with a video game obsession became one of poker’s living legends before hitting the big 3-0

Without any further ado … Click any of the icons below, sit back, relax and enjoy my conversation with Dan “Jungleman” Cates on Chasing Poker Greatness.

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Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 011: Daniel “Jungleman” Cates

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Brad: Welcome back my friend to Chasing Poker Greatness, the podcast that brings you wisdom, insights and inspiration from the greatest minds in the game of poker, all in their own words. I’m your host and founder of Enhance Your Edge, Brad Wilson and in today’s episode I have the pleasure of sitting down for a talk with an all-time poker legend and future Hall of Famer, Dan “Jungleman” Cates. As pokers version of Alexander the Great,  Jungleman has conquered pretty much all there is to conquer in the poker world at the ripe old age of 29. At 21 years old, he accepted the dirt challenge and blistered Mr. Diwan so badly that the challenge still hasn’t been completed nine years later. He’s racked up $7 million plus and poker tournament despite spending the majority of his time battling in high stakes cash games, and most likely has a dragon or two guarding the entrance of the vault of riches he’s won in said cash games. He’s been documented in playing as big as 6k, 12k in Bobby’s room, but I think I can safely say that where there exists the biggest cash game in the world, there’s almost always a Jungleman lurking. He is without a doubt one of the most feared and respected poker players in the game today. During our conversation, you’ll learn the concept of reverse game selection and how Jungle used that tactic as rocket fuel to surge through the online ranks, the importance of overcoming your emotions that clouds your logic on the felt, why working by yourself is inferior to using the knowledge of other people and much, much more. So, sit back and listen to how an introverted 17 year old kid with a video game obsession became one of pokers Living Legends before hitting the big three-oh. Without any further ado, I bring to you my conversation with Dan Jungleman Cates. 

Brad: Jungle. Welcome to the show. Nice to have you on man.

Qdan: Thank you. Glad to be, glad to be on the show. 

Brad: Appreciate it, sir. So, in my research on you, I learned one thing that was very surprising, that you’re only 29 years old. Which is like insane to me, because it feels like you’ve been around just forever. And, you know, the dirt challenge feels like forever ago to me and that, you know, you were 20 years old. And just knowing everything you’ve accomplished to the poker world. I wanted to kind of dig into the journey, you know, the beginning of your story. I know, I know that you you started grinding small stakes, like everybody has to. And you use reverse game selection effectively to make yourself better. Could you tell me about that? And your early growth?

Qdan: Well, yeah. I mean, when I first started, I mean, it was always like, when I was playing, I was always like a battler when I’m playing other video games, whatever. I was always like a battler. And like, yeah, I mean, I just always like to play. And I didn’t really like the idea of having to sit out against people and like, admit that they’re better than me. I always thought I could be better than them. Like if I lost, always thinking, God, I can beat on my, I just do these things and that kind of stuff. What exactly do you want to know about?

Brad: The breakthrough, right? I know you battled, like you said, you’re a battler and by battler you mean you just took on all comers, right? You just wanted to play the best players. The breakthroughs that you made in those, that first couple of years, where you kind of went from 25 cent, 50 cent, to get like 25-50.

Qdan: Um, I think it was a little bit fortunate. And then I happen to be ahead of the curve in 25-50. Like when even when I first started because like I’d only played sit and goes a lot. And it turns out it just happened that there was a lot of money and those games. When I was doing that, if like someone like watch car runners, like applied, that’s what I did. I watched hires and applied the strategy, is like not, it wasn’t anywhere near as hard as it is today. So, I was pretty fortunate to be ahead of the curve in that way. And at least when I first started, and it was fortunate that car runners were so ahead of the game at that time. One thing I want to say about battling is that I didn’t, it wasn’t 100%. I think in the beginning and for a while I was battling everyone all the time. There were points where I get down swings, where I decided that I wasn’t going to play people that were beating me for quite a lot, or that I like feared were better than me. Or played them to less degree. Like, if you always play the best players, no matter what your bank holes is, or whatever, then it’s not usually good idea.

Brad: It’s not going to, it’s not going to end up well.

Qdan: Yeah. If you feel like, you know, like, one buy into navy gone and play. Like, whoever is, like really good. It’s like a job call. So, you have to, like still consider bankroll management and all these sorts of things. And yeah, I was very stubborn, I was very stubborn cunt. And, yeah, I mean, like, when you are doing well, and if you want to, like, you know, play higher stakes or get better. One of the things at some point, you have to start playing better players. Yeah, I mean, like studying and stuff will happen, will actually help more these days I think. In the past, I think that there was more value in playing those players. Now, I think things are so theoretical, that studying matters.

Brad: Speaking on that, you know, that that resonates with me a lot, because I have, a friend of mine, Adam Creek, he’s an Olympic gold medalist, and he was battling. He was the fastest rower in Canada for a long time. And he was, he started getting his ass kicked by one of his teammates. And he finally just broke and said, I’m going to meet this guy, I’m going to talk to him and figure out what he’s doing. And his teammate, you know, they went to lunch, he asked him and his teammates said, well, my trainings like this, once a week, I go to the gym, I train, and I pushed my body beyond what it’s capable of. I find, I go into my body breaks. I’m finding my limit. And then the rest of the week, he hovers right below that limit, right? For growth, and he just is constantly finding those limits. So, I think that in your way, you know, you’re battling the best. And that’s, you know, that’s your breaking point. Right? That’s, those are the guys that are that are taking you to the limit, and then you hover around that. Yeah, it’s an excellent way to grow.

Qdan: Yeah. I think there is also like, something to be said of, like, when you play poker, it’s not purely like, it’s not purely, you know, all logic in some ways. It when you’re actually performing at poker, there are like different, there are ways in which you, you know, you, your emotions come into play and stuff like that. It’s not exactly easy to read a chart, and then go play exactly that chart, or like studies and principles or whatever. And then go and like apply them perfectly when like emotions are at play. So, like, when you do play the best you like, kind of, you tend to overcome, you’re more likely to overcome those emotional barriers, and things like that. Or adjust your, your emotional intelligence accordingly. Which I think is less obvious, because no one really thinks of things. No one really thinks of improvement in this kind of way. I think it’s not very common. But definitely like poker is not purely like a logical thing, in terms of in terms of a few things especially with regards to performance.

Brad: 100%. And emotions are often way more powerful than rational, logical, thought. They can they can overwhelm and poker is an extremely emotional game, right?

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: That’s, I’ve never thought about that. But that’s actually gold right there. You have no choice but to deal with your emotions when

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: Pushing yourself.

Qdan: Yeah, I mean, like, one subtle thing, for example, is I feel like a lot of guys don’t really like, you know, they get like scared and don’t run a bluff or something like that. And you kind of have to, like, deal with that emotionally. Like, there’s some like emotional intelligence aspect to that, where you have to like confront, you know, the fear of like running a bluff and getting called, like, quite a lot, or running a bluff against a really good player or whatever he called. The only way to do that really is through practice and through like, overcoming that fear.

Brad: Yeah, the immersive process. Have you, I know that everyone’s, you know, I’m sure you still deal with the emotions at the poker table, right?

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: In these moments, have you kind of systemized the process for emotional growth? And if so, like, what does that look like?

Qdan: No, I haven’t done that. I wish I knew how to do that. You do not know how to do that. All I know is that, is pushing your comfort zone definitely helps. That’s maybe one of the biggest things I guess, keep pushing it. I’m trying to think that I mean, I think it can be more complicated than that. But I like I’m no expert.

Brad: Yeah.

Qdan: I just, I think that that was like, a very, like subtle factor in why like some people didn’t, like, do as well as others. Even though, like even no, like, intellectually, they were smart enough or whatever. Yeah, it’s just, I just think it’s an important factor.

Brad: I talked with Matt Berkey, a few days ago and he was talking about all this self-actualization and coaching he did with Elliott Row, and just all of these emotional mindset things that you just really have to have, especially if you want to play at, you know, seven figure pots, for instance. Because if you don’t have that, you’re just going to jump off a cliff, right? You know, you’re going to be suicidal all the time. You have to learn how to cope.

Qdan: For sure.

Brad: So, coming up, you know, Viktor Blom, you had an incident with him, where he kind of hurt you early on. And then within a year, you throw your hat in the ring with the dirt challenge from an outsider, you know, I’m a poker player, and I’m in the grind, especially back then every single day. There are very few things that have gotten me excited to watch poker. The one drop was super exciting to me. And the dirt challenge was like, kind of a spectacle. How did it feel to throw your hat in the ring there, the challenge?

Qdan: It felt pretty good at the time. I was very, like, very, I remember I was very excited about it. Egotistical.

Brad: Kind of have to be I think.

Qdan: I don’t know if we, if you have to be, but I think it’s hard not to be. Let’s put it like that. That’s one of my one of the topics that’s interested me more in general was how like, the ego and like, it being, yeah, ego and I’ve been trying to diminish it lately. It’s like kind of like a tricky concept. If you’ve ever read books by Eckhart Tolle, I’m reading New Earth now. There’s some interesting ideas there. And some like he has some explanations for, for like a number of like interpersonal problems that have to do with the ego. Anyway, that’s another subject.

Brad: That’s fine, if you want to expand on Eckhart Tolle. And I love that side of things, too.

Qdan: Sure. I haven’t finished the book yet. I read like a third of the book, something like that of New Earth. And the other book I read a long time ago, and it was like kind of halfway on page or something like that. But these days are more like, thinking more about those sorts of topics. It seems that, like, he suggests that all bad behavior stems from the ego. And maybe that’s the truth, which is a really like, powerful concept. Because if that’s the case, and that’s like a pretty solid step towards like, eliminating bad ego. Like, in fact, in Catholicism apparently, the original sin, the first sin was basically ego existing. Anyway, like, he’ll, like, go into explaining why, like, many, like, parents are just connected with their children. In terms of ego, like, a lot of the time, for example, like a parent will feel like, will feel like a little bit, will get angry child because like, they like have this in the mindset that they’re the parent and they know that their ego has this, and the mind that they’re the parent, they know what’s best for the kid. And he would give a much better explanation. And like, when the child did not meet those expectations, like the ego would basically get upset and then that would be taken out on the kid in some ways that would be not healthy. He explains this far better. Anyway

Brad: They always, the experts always do.

Qdan: Yeah. Especially in like written books that he’s like, organized or read those explanations for a lot of the problems and today seem pretty accurate. Or, yeah, they seem accurate and quite useful. Yeah, so anyway, getting back to, to the poker, I don’t I think it could have been done without ego. But seems like sort of subtle, a subtle like thing to master. Let’s put it that way. What was your other question?

Brad: I can’t remember. I mean, come on, man. You’re 20 years old. If you had mastered your ego at 20 years old. I mean, that, that’s just, you know, I, I was, I’m very confident in saying that at 20 years old, I was a huge, massive fucking idiot. Like, there was no self-actualization, just very immature. Especially emotionally.

Qdan: Yeah, I was too for sure.

Brad: So also, you know, you’ve mentioned before, that you’re a kind of a loner, as you’re rising through the ranks. Do you think that was valuable and helpful at the time? Or if you could go back, would you do it a different way?

Qdan: I think it was, and it wasn’t. I think, actually, maybe in my case, it was because the problem of being a loner, the main problem with being one so there’s, there’s a plus, a plus and the minus side of this. I don’t really think, it’s just I think, being more interested in my, my own little, like self-development things is useful. Being a loner is not particularly good. So, let’s look at it like this. So if you were not, if you were someone who had like a lot of friends and you derive a lot of value in your life from that, probably what would happen is in something that’s more like, something that’s more like having to do with yourself, like your career. You’ll probably lose. You’ll probably be lacking relative to someone who is introverted in that area, because you’ll be thinking more about like these other people and your relationships with those people, that kind of thing. So, I think in that kind of way, it helps. And in fact, like a lot of CEOs like extraversion doesn’t really help. And openness actually doesn’t help for CEOs. This is something I read relatively, relatively recently, which is interesting. But I think it hurt in that, it hurts in that if you have no one to give you some perspective, or no one to like help you, then that can, it can certainly help with parenting that way, because definitely working by yourself is not a good idea. Working by yourself as far inferior to using the knowledge of other people. And you know, the perspectives of the people, which is a bit more subtle. Because sometimes you get stuck in your own head about thinking something in a certain way. And it can like really blind you if you only think of something from one perspective. So, but I don’t really have that second problem. Because from, I didn’t have that second problem was much because I always like looked online and like tried to learn through courses and stuff like that, which solves that problem. So yeah, just naturally had more, more what’s the word, I had more motivation towards learning, which is the hopeful side of being a loner, you could say.

Brad: Right, and being so like, such a voracious learner, I think says a lot about your ego, too. And that you’re, you are humble and hungry still, you know? And what you’re saying about being extroverted, basically, it’s diffusing the focus, right?

Qdan: Right.

Brad: From what the task at hand and it diffuses the focus to other areas so that you’re not is not able to, you know, be the best that that your, you can possibly be.

Qdan: I don’t think that the, you know, someone who’s extroverted is not able to. I just think it’ll be harder, because, you know, the, you know, they could, they’re more interested in

Brad: Dinner.

Qdan: Yeah, or whatever, or like going out to party

Brad: Or golfing party. Yeah, social stuff. Right.

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: You’ve also mentioned that, that you’ve grown, since the dirt challenge began, like, as a player did that, that voracious learning, it just has continued over time and still today?

Qdan: I’ve gone through different periods. Actually, like in 2015, I struggled a lot. And then like, during that time, I wasn’t really using Sims or anything like that. And like, I struggling. I like, one day, I was like, alright, fine with you. Let’s take a look at what’s up here. So, like, at that point, like, every time I like, looked into there, I started learning new things. And I thought, oh, my gosh, I really didn’t know like a lot of different things. And some of this stuff is, is basically brilliant. So, at that point, I was like, very voracious. But there are other points where I wasn’t because, and this, this also goes back to the whole thing of getting caught up in your own little perspective, when there are other perspectives that are better because like, had I just stayed in the perspective of where I was when I was losing 2015, I probably wouldn’t be the player that I am now. But yeah, if you look at things from different perspectives, it’s very helpful. If you find the right like, lens in which to, to approach learning, is the way I kind of think of it. So yeah, there I adjusted my lens in a sense, and I realized I had a lot to learn. So, I was very gracious in that. But there are periods where I’ve gotten very complacent because we’re like, preoccupied with other things that haven’t been as voracious. It was more so like when I starting out, or like learning a game, something like that. Or, like a simple big one. But certainly, you want to be, you certainly want to be really into what you’re learning. If she wants to make some progress.

Brad: Was there a catalyst to look in The Sims? Was it just losing or what did you have a friend that suggested it or maybe somebody else was doing Sims?

Qdan: It was like a mix of those things, but nothing specific. It was just one day I was thinking yeah, maybe I should work on my game a little bit.

Brad: Hanging out.

Qdan: More like we’re like getting the cumulation.

Brad: I mean, speaking to what you said earlier, you know, the poker journey can be very isolating.

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: If, especially if you’re alone, because a lot of the emotions that you feel, you think you’re the only one that feels them, right? A lot of the downsides of poker, but then you talk to people, you meet other poker players that are playing it at a high level, and you realize, oh, like, this is a very common issue. This is a very common feeling like I’m not alone, you know, and that, there’s power in that.

Qdan: Oh, for sure. Matter of fact, actually, that was an interesting topic for me, because when I was younger, I always imagined like, that I was like, different, nothing would ever work for me. And, like, I couldn’t learn things because blah blah blah, like, you know, other.

Brad: How much younger?

Qdan: When I was, I mean, I’ve been gradually, it’s about when I was like, 20, or whatever, or 17. And then like, as I got older, I realized that, you know, a lot of the problems that I thought were unique to me, where a lot of people, a lot of people that were surprisingly common with a lot of different people. And I realized, and you know, what the weird thing was, is they weren’t even like, they weren’t even necessarily like correlated with their own traits to some extent. They were like, you just see them in different people in all sorts of different ways that you just wouldn’t think would really work together. It was like, a lot of the traits that people didn’t really, like, totally align. Like, I don’t know how to say, I don’t know, I’m trying to think of some examples. But more like, basically, the point was, a lot of the problems that you had, firstly, were existed in a lot of different people, even in greater extremes. And that a lot of the same doubts existed. And it seemed as though a lot of, there’s a lot more potential to learn that it actually appeared. Because all those things were like, essentially, I mean, all the doubts were basically the, they’re all basically the same, and even the resistance of the resistances were the same, but a different form. So that was like quite a growing revelation that I had that helped me I think, ultimately. One thing I think, I one thing I did want to mention is that, again, is that a big thing that I think holds a lot of people back and poker and anything, it’s just getting stuck in like one, one way of looking at things. There are multiple different ways of looking at things. And a lot of times the, it’s like, if you like looking at it, like in terms of optic lens, like you’ll, if you’re trying to figure out what the letters are from far away using one lens, it will be, it can be very hard, but, and you won’t be able to make the event. But if you adjust the lens of bits, in some sort of direction, sometimes the answers can be a lot more clear. And that’s a lot more helpful sometimes than just like sheer practice, if that makes sense. So, I thought that might be a useful way, useful thing for the audience to think about is like, are they thinking of things in a way that’s really helpful? Or the better ways to think about things? That kind of thinking.

Brad: Yeah, it’s super, super helpful. And do you know how to, you know, part of the problem here is an awareness that there is a problem, or an awareness that somebody’s stuck in this feedback loop that they need to break out of.

Qdan: Yes.

Brad: How would they go about gaining awareness that there is even a problem in the first place?

Qdan: That’s a very good question. They would I mean, well, there are basically, in poker it’s a little bit more difficult, because the feedback isn’t direct. But I mean, there will be signs, of course. First of all, like they won’t be doing as well, generally speaking, ultimately, they won’t be doing as well. Secondly, like people will say things to them, like, I don’t know, if we play this well, like that kind of thing. There’ll be a number of signs like that, but it does provide some feedback ultimately. It would be helpful for them to look at like the, to use a very rationalist approach in poker specifically. Well, and in terms of, what I mean by that is to try to break down as things as much as possible to, at the smallest points to see like, does the logic work? Does the logic work and all like, aspects of their game? And like, what what’s going on, if that makes sense? Because if it doesn’t, that will result in like some sort of lack of efficiency or whatever. That like will help to find leaks fairly.

Brad: The issue that I always find in folks is, you know, it’s weird to say like, I know that there are some people who are predisposed, are innately better at poker than other people, right? That sort of have had this ability to kind of break things down at a very granular level. What if you don’t have that innate ability? I mean, is it like poker forums, immerse yourself asking questions to the ether? How would you go about that?

Qdan: I don’t even know like, what exactly does innate ability mean?

Brad: Like, me either. I was hoping you would know.

Qdan: I would say, let me think. I do think really examining all the little, a one thing that I think matters a lot, but I don’t, that I found I did naturally was that I don’t that I think would help with innate abilities, just looking at like, every single decision point you make. It would be like, I think it would be a really arduous task for a lot of people to like, say, like, was this raised preflop, right? Or to check raise the river? 

Brad: Yeah.

Qdan: That kind of thing.

Brad: In different sizing, analyzing each different sizing.

Qdan: Yeah, you wouldn’t have 10.

Brad: Yeah.

Qdan: But, yeah, roughly three sizes you can use in most situations.

Brad: Yeah.

Qdan: But like, if you go through all those little, little things, it would be a bit of a pain in the ass. But I think eventually that would develop, like some kind of issue intuition for poker. Yeah, so maybe that answer will help you. I mean, definitely ask, talking to other people helps to some extent, but at some point, you have to figure out like, who actually knows what they’re talking about, which is another problem. You have to like, kind of do a lot of trial and error with a number of things basically. You have to do a lot of trial and error. And you kind of have to figure out who knows what they’re talking about. It’s like quite important before you start listening to people.

Brad: Yes, because bad, bad feedback can be just worse than no feedback at all, depending on where it comes from.


Qdan: Yeah. I think, I think. Go ahead.

Brad: I was going to talk about the art, you know, it being arduous to break this down. That may be the case, but in a lot of ways, you know, this is the barrier to entry, right? This is the barrier to entry to improve your game. And if you want to, if you want to find success at poker, its what you have to do.

Qdan: Yeah, no, that’s for sure. True. I mean, like the more something is worth the results, the greater barrier entry will be. That’s just the way it’s going to be. There’s always like, some cost of like, trying to, trying to achieve it. I mean, definitely some people will be more natural than others, or whatever that means, or better at others to do that. But yeah, I mean, that’s just how it is.

Brad: On the same token, even if some people have more natural skill, that doesn’t mean that you know, you’re not capable of getting better and improving and reaching that skill level if you work hard.

Qdan: Actually, like a number of players even like in the more recent days, ages or whatever poker, like didn’t really even have that much natural skill was just worked really hard. Like the day then, they like superseded guys and a lot of natural skill, like for example, Viktor Blom. I mean, like he has got a lot of natural skill, but he just like, you know, can’t, didn’t sit down and like study or whatever. And like he played people who work their asses oof, didn’t have as much national skill as he did. And then they beat him, through discipline and through other things that mattered to poker besides like, whatever, like X Factor makes him like a genius at poker.

Brad: And I lied by the way, that’s another time that I’ve watched poker and kind of been enthralled with the Victor Blom blow up back in the day.

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: Him for tabling heads up against like, all the top guys at the same time is like, just an insane, and like he’s, I mean, obviously that didn’t end up working out very well for him. But yeah, those guys, the card runners crew that Hastings and Brian Townsend. They, Hastings was the guy that kind of took him down, right?

Qdan: Yeah. I think Hastings was.

Brad: Yeah. What’s, what’s something you’re really bad at, that would surprise people?

Qdan: I can tell you that I like flunked out a computer science class called basically about Game Theory when I was a college. I took the class twice and didn’t pass it. Which is pretty embarrassing. Like nothing to do with poker at all. But you know, Game Theory, probably people think I’m good at some capacity, yes. But not in terms of like formal educational knowledge.

Brad: Yeah, just poker specific game theory, which

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: I will go out on a limb and assume that that’s the one that matters the most for you and your career.

Qdan: Well, I mean, there are aspects of game theory that aren’t really relevant to poker, like for example, building like, they had you like, prove some conjectures by a few different methods and things like that. Doesn’t that like anything to do with poker. You never have to do that. I like to, yeah, I like to imagine good at other games, too. But, yes.

Brad: I’m sure you are. And another aspect of this of flunking the game theory is like, you’re playing poker, I would assume a lot of poker. Again, focus is diffused.Iif your focus was clearly on that or improving in any other game, I have no doubt that you would just crush it.

Qdan: I will. Thanks.

Brad: Not really going out of limb there. I don’t think.

What is up you future star of poker, you. Coach Brad here and I just wanted to take a moment to let you know about PKC poker. If you’re sitting there wondering, why? Why is coach Brad promoting this PKC poker app thing? Allow me a moment to explain my why. Battling in cash games has been my livelihood for the past 15 years. It’s how I survive and put food on the table, which makes it imperative that I either test out or seek qualified opinions on all the poker platforms on the market. One juicy fine can mean the difference between a meh year and an amazing family vacation and why kind of year. With that said I’ve tried almost all of the major poker apps on the market to date and despite the hype about amazingly juicy games, I’ve come away from the experience unsatisfied. I was just never able to find amazing success against seemingly weak competition. And in one specific case was getting outright destroyed by passive villains playing more than 50% of their hands. What on earth was going on, right? After many evenings sitting in the bathtub, wondering if I had lost it, I finally dug into the data and learn something that shouldn’t have been too surprising to you. These dudes were colluding and super using their pants off. So, I swore off those free money, decentralized devil apps and decided to go back to my more familiar streets of ignition. It was then that I was contacted by a good friend of mine who turned out to be the Vice President of Worldwide Operations at PKC. Him and I had a long in-depth conversation about security, the ecosystem and the future direction of PKC, and he managed to convince me to give it a shot. That shot turned into an incredible six months with an hourly rate that’s about five times what it would have been playing on any other US platform. As it turns out, I didn’t forget how to play, I just needed to be on a level playing field to return to my crushing ways. I have no doubt that you, my community, my audience is going to play online poker somewhere. And I want to be damn sure that you don’t go through the pain and frustration I felt by messing around with any poker app besides PKC. This is why promoting PKC is a no brainer for me. I love you, I love my community. And I want to put you in the best position to succeed at this game that we both love so much. So, if you’d like to join me in the streets of PKC, simply head to enhanceyouredge.com/pkcpot and get your invite code to play. You must have an invite code and you must be 21 years of age or older. One more time, that’s enhanceyouredge.com/pkcpot. Best of luck, and now on with the show.


Brad: What would you say, like today, your process for improving your poker game? What does that look like? Is it Sims? Is there any way to break it down?

Qdan: Yeah, Sims will be helpful for last spots. So, like for example, if I mean, there are a number of situations that you know, are, are good. And this comes back to the whole, like analyzing every decision point you make. So, this is what I would do. I would like for example, if you raise aces in a position, that’s going to be okay. You know that fucking raising aces early position, it’s going to be okay. But every time your unsure decision to like, write it down or make a note of it, and then look through the Sims and see what you’re supposed to do with the Sims and like think about like the other players exploitative tendencies or whatever. If you do that, if you keep doing that, you’re going to get answers. So, I would say do that for every single time you’re not sure about something. You’re not 100% sure about something, if it’s like even like, think if you want to be really perfectionist, even like if you’re 5% sure, or like 10% or whatever. And eventually you’ll get better if you keep doing that.

Brad: Yeah, you have to. I love that. And another way to frame it is perhaps if you are at a decision point and multiple decision points look similar. That’s a prime spot to hop in and start studying that spot.

Qdan: Yeah, that’s true. Those are tough spots I would say. I would generally lead with the decision that exploits the other players tendencies. more in those sorts of situations. Yeah, I’m trying to think of a simple situation. That there’s some, there are some decision points that matter a lot. I mean, it’s not hard to come up with in terms of like if you’re playing some hands, it’s not going to take long for something to be a little bit less clear, like the flop, like certain middle pair on board. You get a better check it or whatever, if you’re, if you’re like adaptation you bet small on the river, or bet big checker or go for checkers like all those sorts of things.

Brad: And yeah, like, like you said, they’re very easy to come up with when you’re playing because they happen over and over and over. At least they do to me, every poker session that I play. There’s always, always room questions, right? And areas to work on. What’s some common poker advice you hear that you just disagree with?

Qdan: Oh, here’s one but I disagree with it. But as approaching me because of whatever I hear a lot about people like talking about like getting away from like, getting away from like tough spots, or like big hands or something like that, or like, they’re like saying, like, they could be better. They want to wait for better spots. It’s not really accurate. But there is truth to that statement and a lot of situations. More so with investments actually. It’s like, hurt me with investments, but then it’s more like it’s a perspective that’s not really precise. But that works a lot in situations and it does tend to work more in tournaments, like that kind of mindset helps a lot in tournaments. But in cash games. It’s not a good mindset. Yeah, in cash games, that does not work.

Brad: Yeah. Because cash games is just like, plus EV and minus EV decision. Doesn’t really matter what happens. You always take the plus EV2, and a tournament, maybe you can have a small edge, but you can exploit the shit out of three guys on your left by raising in the dark or three betting or whatever it is.

Qdan: Yeah, yeah.

Brad: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. You mentioned investments. How’s your investment game?

Qdan: Define how, or how.

Brad: Net positive career, net negative career.

Qdan: Positive emotions.

Brad: Let’s go on the financial side, but

Qdan: Emotions aside, we’re working on it. We’re

Brad: Room for growth.

Qdan: Yeah, there’s room for improvement? Yeah, let’s put it like that. Yeah, my investments have not gone very well. I just like got too caught up in all these like spicy ideas, whatever. And like, didn’t really like factor in things. You don’t have to factor in poker, like liquidity and exit plan. Like those things matter a lot. Because sometimes, like the exit plan is like you is like there isn’t just one you just stuck in the investment thing. You’re like, oh, why did I do that? I shouldn’t invest unless it’s like, super easy to be results oriented. All this stuff.

Brad: Well, I mean, like we said, you’re 29, you’re young, right? These are lessons, lessons that are going to improve your investing career over time.

Qdan: Yeah.

Brad: You mentioned in an interview about one of your values being growth.

Qdan: Yes.

Brad: Growth and ambition. And I had a question. Do you ever sit down at games where you feel like you’re a dog in the game nowadays? And basically, the reason I asked that is because, you know, if you’re the top of the food chain, and all the games you’re playing in, there’s really no motivation for growth.

Qdan: I will say that, yeah, I’ve lost some motivation for poker for a couple reasons. In particular, I can’t really do anything more with it. I live in the life, who cares that I’m going to be like, a little bit richer or whatever.

Brad: Yeah.

Qdan: Like ultimately, like, what do I want to like, play this like, rat race where trying to, like, get the most money? Like, what’s the point? And even then, it seems like kind of, it seemed I ultimately realized it was basically like running like a different version of rat race, by like, just trying to play all the time to make as much money as possible. And so, I felt like I lost a little bit of motivation. I’m not that much in terms of whatever because still, like the money is useful, whatever. But now I’ve like been pursuing other areas of interests a bit. And not like worrying as much about the EV of like, what I do so much. Like, if you look at like in terms of like, what the EV, you’re like, what your EV is per day in terms of like dollar amounts, that is like certainly not the perfect perspective, no matter who you are, I think. Because certainly there are values to a lot of other things in basically every way and other values that even translated to money if you have to look at things in terms of money. That yeah, basically the matter more, or matter or matter of the cyber money. Money matters, of course. But you know, other things matter as well.

Brad: And it’s kind of goal setting. Goal setting 101 is like you want to you want to set emotional goals, right. Like being the best, beating the best. These emotional goals are drive us and money is sort of like a toxic goal. Just the blind pursuit of more money and especially as related to growing like, as a poker player. You need to have an emotional reason as to why, whether it’s to be the best, take care of your family, or whatever it is.

Qdan: Yeah. I think, to be honest, I think that trying to become the absolute best, something like that, relate to, related to, I ultimately came to the conclusion that trying to come to, become like something like the absolute best, or something along those. There’s some subtlety to it. Because like, it can be like, relatively good thing. But like, basically, it’s not a perfect goal to try to do that. It’s, it’s like, it’s like if you devote so much energy to trying to become the absolute best, other ways, in other ways, like we suffer, like that and of itself is not like, is not a perfectly healthy goal. Let’s put it like that, in my opinion. If you’re trying to make a little bit more money, you’re trying to like, get better and move up in stakes. I think that probably is close to being illegal. And maybe if you just like keep setting like I’m going to try to do something better. Like, let’s recreate it like this. I think if you rephrase the goal of trying to become the best into something like I’m just going to try to do better. I’m just going to try to push myself every single day to raise stakes. Like, that’s a more, it’s a healthier goal. Let’s put it like that.

Brad: And more quantifiable. Basically, just try to be your best self every day, day after day after day after day.

Qdan: Uh, yeah, the that’s a good vocation. Yes.

Brad: If you could, that that kid that was trying his way at the stakes, the loner that’s on card runners, if you could give him some wisdom, retroactively, what would you tell him?

Qdan: That’s a good question. Because, like, you could give people wisdom in ways that, you know, is good in theory, but not necessarily for them at the time, if that makes sense.

Brad: Yeah, perfect sense.

Qdan: Yeah, like it’s sort of like, it’s more of like, there’s an exploitative strategy in terms of like, what wisdom is best for someone at that time? Compared to like, what’s the best wisdom in theory for them at that time? In my case, I think I would have liked to, like pursue other avenues within poker earlier, and looked at other ways of making money besides just like grinding, or excuse me, just grinding on full tilt. Like one of the big mistakes I made was never like playing on your own sites or whatever, until it’s like too late and I would have made a ton more money. Which may seem counterintuitive to some of the other things I said about like, you do not track focusing too much on money. But in this is kind of like the exploitive thing for me to say and like making more money is not exactly a bad thing. It’s just more, it’s bad thing when other areas suffer. A simple example to that is when you know when someone like there’s a point when if you want to make some more and more, more money that you would like betray your friends. Yeah, that’s probably not very good. And by probably, I mean, definitely.

Brad: Yeah, basically scamming.

Qdan: All things are relative to each other appropriately. There are multiple, huh?

Brad: That’s just an awesome insight. I’m just thinking about that insight as far as like exploitative wisdom to the person that you were, because I talked to another friend of mine, Degaff, you know, I asked him that question. And he was like, well, I would give myself the advice to save my money better and to create other avenues as far as revenue streams, he’s like, but the problem is, like, I got that advice. Like, other people gave him that advice at the time. And he was just like, his ego wouldn’t accept it, right? He thought, oh, I’m just going to be making 500k a year playing poker forever. Who needs multiple income streams, right? So, I learned the, you know, there’s some wisdom that is great wisdom, but at the time, that person is not going to accept it.

Qdan: Right, right. Yeah. It’s very relevant in raising children actually. Because like, to raise children is like, and I don’t know much about raising children except that it’s like relevant like, it’s relevant to dealing people in general. Even though like people can be childish in some ways and the mature in other ways. And you know, when you’re like dealing with people appropriately, you have to like kind of like, there’s quite some skill in dealing with people appropriately. Both mature and childish like sometimes you can like overcompensate with some details in dealing with mature people. Like you can like caress their ego too much when it’s like not necessary and it wastes time. And then conversely, you can like not curse lindsey go when they’re immature. When you know now they won’t listen to you. 

Brad: When it’s not helpful.

Qdan: Yeah,

Brad: It’s reading the room having emotional intelligence.

Qdan: Yes.

Brad: You’ve mentioned a couple of books in this conversation. If you could gift, my audience one book, what book would you would you give them?

Qdan: I think a, I think New Earth lately is pretty good. I think that’s something that that’s very logical for a lot of the readers to read and to see why, like many of the see more clearly why like ego is, you know, a big problem in today’s society. He does ask like, a very large and daunting task, like removing ego, like it’s actually a huge, huge task. But I think a lot of the things he says gets people thinking on the right path by Eckhart Tolle, but don’t say that. That would be the one book, the first book on my mind that I would recommend.

Brad: Nice. And I’ll also give a book too, after this conversation that kind of came to me on those lines of the ego, and dealing with people. This book called Leadership and Self-Deception by the Harbinger Institute, and

Qdan: Oh, I haven’t heard of that book, I’ll write it down. 

Brad: Yeah, it is just an amazing book on relationships with other people and how, how effectively, like the ego comes into play. And the example that they use in the book is like, you’re asleep in bed, right, and your next your wife, and it’s a neutral situation, like you love your wife, you think highly of her, your babies in the other room, you have an important meeting in the morning, and the baby starts crying. And you’re like, ah, you lay there. You don’t immediately go do it. Because you’re like, oh, my wife’s going to wake up, she’s going to take care of it, she knows that I have an important meeting in the morning. And she doesn’t get up, right. So, you’re just like, kind of lying there and faking it. And then like your neutral feelings or feelings of love to your wife, they start changing after you deceive yourself by not getting up, you start thinking, oh, my wife’s lazy, she doesn’t care that I have a meeting. And then you start projecting all these things. And then before you before you know it, these things manifest in other areas of life.

Qdan: Right. And that’s a, by the way, the manifestations of that are immature versions of communication. The mature version of communication is to like, say, something like, well, the first thing is to not have that expectation. And the second thing is to like, do not have the yet, to not have that expectation, and like hold on to it if you’d like doesn’t do it or find some other way to handle it. The but the mature thing to do is say like, hey, can you please is literally just to say like, hey, can you please do these things, because I’m busy tomorrow, and like, this would really help me a lot or whatever, something like that. Instead of like, expecting you to do it and knock it up, and then be like, oh, you’re fucking lazy or whatever, or something like.

Brad: Right.

Qdan: But later on, now that you’re irritated, because she didn’t do something that you expect her to do. And like she didn’t know, that was expectation.

Brad: And this goes back again to, well, more self-help. The Four Agreements is one of the Four Agreements is don’t make is don’t make assumptions. Assumptions can be very toxic.

Qdan: Yes, assumptions or expectations. Well, maybe you can. It’s kind of subtle, because I think you can make them as long as you don’t get like attached to them. You don’t get like, you can, you can sort of make you can make assumptions. But adults, like, hold on to them and get like salty when they’re wrong or something like this.

Brad: Yeah, you can make assumptions that are like lowercase T-truths, right? That are subject to evaluation. That you just don’t hold to.

Qdan: Yes, yeah.

Brad: So just a couple more questions, and we’ll get you out of here, man.

Qdan:  Yeah.

Brad: Let’s project into the future a bit, maybe 15 years, what accomplishments will you have added to your resume, and they can be poker or non-poker related?

Qdan: I think I’d like to do something that’s non-poker related. I personally prefer to do something more. More having to do with like, myself, or myself as like a personal, myself is like a personality like a public personality, something along those lines, like an entertainment or whatever. Entertainment is a big area where this exists or something like this. Maybe not necessarily entertainment, but like something. Yes, something bigger than poker in the sense. I haven’t really figured that out yet. Or just something. I prefer to do something as scalable as possible, like maybe technology or something in business. I’m taking, I’m trying to decide what the most scalable avenues are. I think technology is one, definitely, but I really, I don’t really know, the first step to that, but I’m trying to explore that. And basically 15 years I hope to like, you know, have some like major role and how technology affects the world or something like that. Let’s see if I can do that, I don’t know. Sort of like it’s a thing goal, or affect the world very largely in some positive way. Also a big goal, even though it sounds very simple, with the way it stated.

Brad: It’s definitely a massive, massive goal. And I’m sure that with your network of people, you can get some tech wisdom thrown your way to help you reach that. But uh, yeah, man, that that’s awesome. And I’m actually a little glad that it’s not poker related. Hopefully glad for humanity in the next 15 years, too.

Qdan: I hope so, too.

Brad: So where can the chasing poker greatness audience find you on the inter webs?

Qdan: Oh, they can find me on my Instagram @junglemandadpoker, or Twitter @junglemandan. Like maybe I’ll start a blog or something, thinking about it. But for now, just those places.

Brad: Awesome, man. Whenever you start your blog, let me know. And I’ll promote the living bejesus out of it.

Qdan: Sure.

Brad: Ut’s, it’s been great having you on the show. I appreciate your time and energy. It’s been awesome, man.

Qdan: All right. Yeah, I’m happy to go on the show too. And I’m honored.

Brad: Oh, that’s, thank you. Appreciate it.


Thank you so much for listening to this episode of chasing poker greatness. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the show, please take a moment to do so on Apple podcasts or wherever your favorite place listen to podcasts might be. And once again,I also wanted to let you know about PKC poker. If you’re on the lookout for a new platform where the games are safe and secure and the action is amazing, head to enhanceyouredge.com/PKC to get your code and jump into the games. You must have a code to play as well as be 21 years of age or older. One final time that’s enhanceyouredge.com/PKC. Thank you so much and I’ll see you next time on Chasing Poker Greatness.

Thanks for reading this transcript of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 011: Daniel “Jungleman” Cates

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