The wild card of the bunch, Daniel 'jungleman12' Cates may not boast British blood, but he does now reside in the UK after making the post-Black Friday move. At the cyber felt, 2011 delivered another winning year for the 22-year old prodigy - and he had his nose well in front in the Durrrr Challenge before politics intervened - but life offline was less than fruitful, in particular with regards to the Girah scandal which led to an intense 90-minute grilling from Subject: Poker.
How are you finding life this side of the Pond?
I'm not really able to do too much because I have no car and am a little outside of London, but yeah, it's fun. I have lots of free time and it seems a lot like the US in many ways. I came over some time in August, and have been travelling around since then, going to tournaments. I went to the US for a TV show, and also to Vienna for a seminar and to check out the city. I'm in Thailand at the moment.
I wasn't planning on moving prior to Black Friday, but I wish I had for more than one reason. For one thing, the action on Euro sites is better - the players are a little bit weaker, not the regulars as such, but more fish, at $50/100, which almost never happened on Full Tilt or PokerStars. It was extremely rare.
How did Black Friday affect you?
Black Friday affected me negatively; there's a lot of long-term things that really stunk it up: it made money transactions way harder, which is something I've learned. It's made playing in general a lot more difficult, and I still have tonnes of money stuck on Full Tilt, and also Ultimate Bet. The numbers are pretty private, but it's seven figures.
I can't see poker being regulated in the near future, but probably within a few years. I might consider going to Canada at some point, and maybe South America. I'd probably still live in a foreign country, although I'm not 100 percent on that.
Is the Girah scandal in the past now?
It's not exactly gone; people still needle me about it occasionally. I think Haseeb [Qureshi] and I took way too much shit for it, more than we should have. Maybe other people disagree, but it's more or less blown over, I guess. In terms of my dealings with other people, the Girah scandal didn't really affect my reputation in that sense. To those who don't really know me, it's still something I gradually need to work on, as it's not going to go away easily. I guess the way to rebuild in that sense is to not do things that are scandal-worthy.
I should be less trustful with randoms that my friends vouch for, which is essentially what happened with Girah. It was something neither of us could have predicted. I actually probably gained some sort of perspective on scandals and doing bad things from it all. This guy on Two Plus Two went years into my past and found a post from me where I suspected an opponent of sharing his account with someone else, which I wasn't very happy with because I didn't want to play the other player. I said on Two Plus Two, 'Yo, stop multi-accounting. This is cheating, if not necessarily close to it.'
Cheating was kind of an exaggeration, and in defence of myself, I obviously think that now, but for me it was eye-opening to see that comment and think, 'Wow, I hate being called that when I do something that's not good, so maybe I shouldn't be so accusatory of other people when they make mistakes.' It gave me some perspective and I learned not to be so judgemental because I know how I feel when people are judgemental towards me for a similar scenario.
I've talked to him [Girah] once or twice on Skype. I still don't really understand why he did it. Supposedly, he explained to Haseeb why. One of his friends said it'd be so easy to take money from people. He told me that he 'just did it' the next day, which didn't really make much sense. I don't know, it's some sort of psychological thing. It's funny, because he was telling me that he'd often teach students and not charge them anything, but that seems really paradoxical because he scammed his friends for money. Why would you not charge for coaching yet scam your friends? It doesn't make any sense to me.
Have did it affect your relationship with Haseeb?
The whole thing did cause a little interruption in my friendship with Haseeb, but I still think he's a good person. Perhaps his standards for ethics might be a little out of line sometimes, but I don't think he was trying to scheme to deceive people, that much is true. Maybe we've hit a few rocks in our relationship, but on the whole, we're still friends. I think he really wants to quit poker, especially with the scandals; that really hurt his career a lot, and he's not even focusing on poker that much right now. I think he wants to write, which he's pretty good at, and that's his plan for the future.
Do you think we need more rigid rules to get rid of the grey areas?
That's a decent question. That would definitely help but I don't think it's feasible because there's no real theory to be put in place to say what's right and what's wrong. A lot of laws try and do that, but a lot of laws are ineffective. For example, speeding limits, people often ignore those, drinking laws too - that's what they try and do, make things black and white, but it doesn't really work that way. It's also very difficult to regulate and enforce those rules.
What's the latest on the Durrrr Challenge?
We've played around 20,000 hands, but we're not really done yet. He has not settled. However, if he's incredibly flakey about following up with the Challenge, and it doesn't seem very high on his priority list, then I would like him to settle, or play out his hands pretty soon. Technically, it's still on, but it's not really going anywhere. I want durrrr to show a little more commitment to this Challenge, especially because we both agreed to play 5,000 hands a month, and that obviously hasn't happened at all.
There are a few reasons why I accepted the Challenge, although I assure you that if it were 1:1, I'd still probably have considered it. Personally, I definitely think I had the upper hand, but it's also good for my profile as well. One of the downsides is that it's a massive commitment. You have to basically assume that you have an edge for most of the 50,000 hands, and oftentimes in heads-up matches, who has an edge at certain points in time isn't always the same, as one player might have adjusted to the other.
What happened with your own heads-up challenge?
It's a combination of a couple of things. People aren't jumping at the chance to play me heads-up, and it's Prague, which is an okay location, but not everyone wants to go there at that particular time, so it's a little inconvenient. In addition, there wasn't any extra incentive like there was with the Durrrr Challenge to overcome their lack of wanting to play me. Maybe if there were more incentive, I would have got more of a response.
Isildur's given me a lot of trouble in the past, but it would have been kind of cool; it would have been an epic battle if he'd decided to play. Another player who would have been tough is Urindanger, as he knows a lot about how I think and has a lot of reads on me. But again, it would have been a nice match.
How was Vegas?
I've been to Vegas multiple times, so it was fun, as usual. I can't play poker all of the time, and if I'm going on a business trip to Vegas, I might as well have fun doing some cool things. I don't try to balance, and it's certainly weighted towards more career-orientated things like making money, but I definitely try and see the sights, go to parties, or whatever.
As far as poker's concerned, I won in cash overall, but unfortunately lost doing other things - like all my pieces in people bricking - and I lost some money playing Chinese. But I played well enough, apparently.
I've played in Bobby's quite a bit and I won money during the Series. I started off in a big hole, but won it all back. I haven't been to Macau yet, but I'll be playing over there at some point. Not in the immediate future, but maybe in a few months time or so.
How has your game gone this past year?
On cash games, I've won a decent amount of money, especially if you count the money on Full Tilt, but on the whole it's been a pretty terrible year for me. A lot of things haven't gone the way I wanted them to, mostly non-poker related, little tangent things. The whole Girah scandal was really, really irritating to me, and I lost money on a lot of my little investments, so to speak. It made me more irritable at the table, but didn't threaten my game. Just a lot of setbacks, which was frustrating to me.
I haven't played much live poker lately, although I will at the Aussie Millions and Vegas, and maybe if I go to Macau. I'm interested in some tournaments, but on the whole, I'm playing a lot more online. I have a love-hate relationship with live poker. On the one hand I don't like how slow life is, and how completely meaningless the number of hands is. The outcomes of the sessions really don't mean anything, so it's kind of soul-crushing, and mostly posturing and doing nothing rather than actually playing. On the other hand, the games are softer, you can get massages and interact with people and travel to some good locations.
I'm still enjoying playing, particularly online. Players are getting better, so it's always a challenge. I'm always interested to learn more, although there are a couple of aspects that push me the other way: complacency, like straight laziness from having attained some sort of success and not wanting to work as much. It's like thinking you know everything, but that's not true - there have been many times in my past when I've thought I knew everything there was to know about Texas Hold'em, and then I'd later learn that I didn't know very much at all.
Is there anything you'd like to improve?
I'd like to get better at Mixed Games. I think there's lots of money in Mixed Games, and it would be good to learn them. I know Triple Draw reasonably well and a few principles about some other games. I have basic information on Single Draw, Badugi and so on. There may be some game that comes along that supersedes No Limit, but I don't think it'll be any of the current Mixed Games. Games that really take off have certain aspects that make them take off. If a game hasn't taken off for a decent amount of time, it's probably not going to.
There are a number of things in poker that you can do and a way of playing that makes you very difficult to beat. I don't know that much about game theory, but poker is something that can be solved. The more people approach playing GTO [Game Theory Optimal], the more difficult it will become to make money, and that is a concern in the future. However, people still make mistakes, and very basic mistakes, and that's the good news. Chinese Poker is solved, and people fish really hard at that.
In 2012, I want to win a tournament; I've been wanting to do that for a while.
Our New Year Reviews will continue throughout January and appear every two days.
Other New Year Interviews:
#1 - JP Kelly
#2 - Roberto Romanello
#4 - James Keys
#5 - Julian Thew
#6 - Jerome Bradpiece