Dan “Jungleman” Cates video interview: “I just try to win all the pots I can”

Paul Phua gets tips on heads-up poker strategy from Dan “Jungleman” Cates in the latest of the Paul Phua Poker School video interviews with high-stakes pros

Dan “Jungleman” Cates is one of the best heads-up poker players in the world. Under his online poker name of “Jungleman12”, he has made more than $10 million profit on the Full Tilt poker site, putting him third on the HighstakesDB.com list of biggest poker winners.

Who is Daniel “Jungleman” Cates? Poker player profile:

Dan Cates, 27, from the United States, is one of the world’s leading heads-up poker players.
— He plays online poker under the names “Jungleman12” and “w00ki3z”.
— He has made more than $10 million profit on the Full Tilt poker site.
— He has nearly $5 million in live poker tournament cashes.
— He often plays cash poker for high stakes in “the Big Game” in Macau and Manila.
He is known for his aggressive style of play.

Full-ring poker vs. heads-up poker

In the last few years, he has also branched out into full-ring poker [multi-player cash games], testing himself in the highest of high-stakes poker cash games against myself and other pro players in Macau, Manila and elsewhere. The swings in “the Big Game” can be huge. After one marathon session in 2015, Jungleman (as we all call him) made headlines in the poker press when he Tweeted: “Sooo Manila didn’t go well, only lost about 38m hkd (5m usd)”.
He has made it back since!
In this new video interview for the Paul Phua Poker School, Dan “Jungleman” Cates discusses the differences between heads-up and full-ring poker. He even admits to an early mistake when he first made the switch:
“There are many more combinations of hands in heads-up rather than ring,” Jungleman says, “so a lot of times you can value-bet thinner, when it’s actually quite a large mistake in ring to value-bet thin when, like, a flush draw completes.”
What he means by “more combinations of hands” is that you should play a very much wider range of starting hands in heads-up than in full-ring poker. The winning hand at showdown is also likely to be no bigger than a pair; sometimes even just Ace or King high. Heads-up therefore suits an aggressive style of playing poker, which Dan Cates certainly has!

Aggressive poker playing strategy

One tip I like in this Paul Phua Poker video interview is where Jungleman says, “I guess one strategy for heads-up that I have is I just try to win all the pots that I possibly can. I’d see where people let me take pots from them and where they don’t.”
You see what I mean about an aggressive poker style! Jungleman is constantly attacking and probing for weakness, which puts less experienced poker players on the back foot. They are scared to call his raises unless they have a very strong hand, and in heads-up it’s rare to have one!
Interestingly, Jungleman has found that this skill is transferrable to full-ring. Trying to win many pots helps with the ring poker game, says Jungleman, “because sometimes ring players are so used to having stuff, are so used to playing against strong ranges, that they forget about little pots that they can pick up.”

Poker lessons to be learned

That is something I believe we can all learn from. Many of us get too comfortable playing poker the safe and “proper” way: wait for a premium starting hand, and be prepared to fold if you don’t hit the flop. As Jungleman puts it, you end up folding “because you have, like, Ace-10 off-suit under the gun. ‘Oh, well. It’s under the gun, I have to fold now!’”
But if you apply a bit of the heads-up poker aggression to ring, some of those guerrilla-style tactics of hitting hard with unpredictable hands when your opponents are least expecting it – or representing those hands when you don’t have them! – then you can take down a lot of small pots against opponents who aren’t prepared to take a risk.

Pre-flop strategy from Dan Cates

Pre-flop, Jungleman reveals in the video interview, “I prefer to 3-bet a hand like 5-6 suited more so than, like, Queen-10 suited. But I also try to balance calling and 3-betting with a hand like Ace-Queen off suit because… It’s more of a subtle thing, but if you call so much with Ace-Queen off suit it becomes a really obvious hand that you have.”
The key here is variation. Adjust your poker playing style to whether your opponent is loose or tight, and don’t always play the same hand in the same way. An unpredictable poker player is hard to beat. And they don’t come much more unpredictable than Dan “Jungleman” Cates.
More videos from the poker pros can be found on the Paul Phua Poker YouTube channel. Subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on future releases. It’s free!