Interview with Dan Cates: 10 Questions with the Jungleman

The 2024 World Series of Poker is now in full swing, and poker players the world over, both recreational and professional, are descending upon Las Vegas to take their shot at glory and riches. One player who has managed to claim for himself quite a bit of both over the years is Dan “Jungleman” Cates. The 2-time WSOP bracelet winner has close to $15 million in career live tournament earnings, countless millions more online, and is looking to boost those numbers over the summer in Sin City.

In Cardplayer Lifestyle’s first ever interview with Dan Cates, we see what the Jungleman has been up to over the last while leading up to the 2024 poker summer and explore his current goals as a player and content creator in the industry space. In particular, we dive deep to better understand the mindset of one of poker’s most intriguing personalities, and what makes him tick.

Dan Cates


Over the past six months or so, your last four poker tournament cashes were recorded in South Korea, the Bahamas, Brazil and Cambodia. Generally speaking, how have you been spending your time over the last half year? What’s the day-to-day like for Jungleman? How much of your time these days is dedicated to studying and playing poker vs. other pursuits?

I recently finished a trip in Nepal and Tibet, which was the perfect place to help prepare myself mentally and physically for the WSOP. From attending singing bowl healing therapy to participating in the puja ritual (providing relief from problems, fears, stress and ego), I also hiked 32 miles up Mount Kailash at 5,600m altitude and didn’t sleep for three days.

Throughout the year I haven’t been studying much and playing a little here and there (maybe 40% compared to what I’m used to). My days consist of working out a lot, reading, and trying to start a business in the form of a poker community.

Dan Cates

Looking through your impressive list of HendonMob cashes, it’s clear that you have a preference for playing in the highest buy-in tournaments. Having had a stellar career at the felt, you now have the luxury of playing in pretty much any poker tournament you want. What guides your decision-making as far as which tournaments to play and where in the world to travel and play them? To what degree do you just prefer to play live and online cash games?

The money matters a lot for my decisions for where to go, followed by how much I like the area and convenience.

Back in March 2022, you launched the “Winning the Game of Life Podcast”. It’s been over two years now, and you’ve recorded nearly 100 episodes thus far along with having generated a significant following across multiple platforms. There are lots of podcasts out there in the poker space. What has been your overarching goal throughout the life of your podcast and in what ways do you feel that WTGOL is unique and stands out from the pack?

What inspired me at first was I wanted to expand my career beyond poker and connect with different kinds of people. I wanted to use it to find a way to better the viewers’ lives, but as time progressed I decided to focus on content that should largely help the aspiring poker player.

How do you decide which guests you’d like to have on the show, and what does your preparation process look like ahead of each hour-long conversation?

The guests are a combination of entertaining + have a high profile or have unique insight. A huge thank you to my podcast team – Ben Zeis (Editor), Marin Stanimirov (Social Media & Marketing), Sarah Goddard (PR & Guest Booker), Brandi Lilley & Jenny Guidry (Operations), Tyler Jackson & Jordan Ryan (Graphic Designers).

You’ve been an elite coach with Run It Once Training since September 2021. Why did you decide to get involved in the poker training space in the first place? With all the great programs out there, what made you decide to specifically become a coach with Run It Once?

A bit of timing, actually, and I always liked the Run It Once guys. It helps expands my career, but also I have recently decided to more actively help the poker market. This is just one part of it.

It’s undeniable that plenty of poker players and Run It Once students have gained tremendously from your training videos. What do you feel that YOU have gained from the coaching experience thus far, and in what ways do you feel your own game has improved as a result of prepping the lessons and engaging with students?

It’s forced me to do some analysis of my own. Sometimes actually I find leaks of mine from helping students, lol.

From outward appearances, you seem to have an interesting relationship with money, certainly having had some massive up and down swings over the years. What does money mean to you? Was this always the case (e.g., when you were growing up) or did your relationship to/with money change once you became a professional poker player and saw success (and how)?

Poker definitely made me less risk averse, and my ideas towards risk changed with time. It’s not my main motivator, which is instead experience and positive impact.

You’re in a special place on the Venn diagram of poker playing professionals, in that you play ALL the games for the highest stakes; i.e., not just No Limit Hold’em. Thus, your skill set seems uniquely suited to chase WSOP Player of the Year. Why has that seemingly not tempted you over the course of your career? What sort of poker accolades DO matter to you?

I don’t really like the tournaments that much. I was more in it for the money and freedom, that is until I realized that there was a pretty big opportunity in the realm of positive impact with it.

Your pair of WSOP bracelets are widely acknowledged as your most impressive poker accomplishments. Winning back-to-back titles in the $50K Poker Players Championship (2021, 2022) against the best all-around players in the world is certainly up there in the pantheon of the game’s most remarkable achievements. What do those wins mean to you in retrospect? How do those victories compare to your other notable poker successes, such as your two WPT titles or your higher dollar scores at Triton and EPT events?

They have more clout for sure, and otherwise signify my success in all the games. They make some crazy stories also that hopefully have some meaning.

Lastly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask you a bit about Dan Cates’ “playful side”. Something else you’ve become notable for in recent years has been your choice of cosplay outfits. Whether it’s been “Macho Man Dan”, the Lord of the Rings’ Saruman, or other colorful characters, you certainly cause a stir when you get all dressed up for poker play in front of the cameras. What do you most enjoy about doing this, and what influences your decision making about what character to dress up as next?

I try to make the costumes on theme and fun. They definitely bring a different element to the game. Stay tuned for more costumes at this year’s WSOP…

You can find Dan “Jungleman” Cates on social media:


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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]

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