Daniel Cates is the new King of the Jungle after winning the exclusive high-roller World Poker Tour (WPT) event in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cates, widely known in the online poker community as “jungleman,” dominated the WPT Alpha8 Johannesburg $100,000 buy-in tournament from start to finish, proving that he can be a poker “wiz kid” not only online but also on the real poker felt.
To win the prestigious event, Cates beat down a field of nine players with impressive resumes including recent Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge winner Phil Ivey, all-time live tournament money-list leader Antonio Esfandiari, and two-time WPT Alpha8 winner Philipp Gruissem.
Of those nine players, only seven qualified for the second and final day. Max Altergott was the first to bust out of the tournament followed by Ivey. Esfandiari was also eliminated on the first day but he decided to rebuy and try his luck one more time.
Unfortunately for “The Magician,” nothing changed on the second day. He was the first to leave the final table after just two hands played. He called a flop with only a flush draw and got penalized for it.
Gruissem was next to leave the action after losing two important pots. Erik Seidel drew first blood, winning an all-in battle against the German, while Jeff Gross finished him off by catching a river-saving ten for the best hand.
Although he had some breathing room after doubling up, Seidel finished in fifth place. Cates, who was already the dominating stack, min-raised under the gun and Seidel shoved his pocket sevens. Cates called with pocket tens to send the poker veteran packing. And the money bubble was on.
Because of that, play slowed down immediately with each participant carefully choosing spots to put chips in the middle. Eventually, after 134 hands, the money bubble burst. Gross was the unlucky player who finished just outside the money, going all-in with Ace-Eight. Cates increased his chip lead by calling and winning the hand with pocket eights.
After that, the fast-paced action resumed. Local South African player, Kinesh Pather, inspired by his fans’ vuvuzelas, shoved all-in with King-Queen and was facing elimination against Jason Mercier’s pocket Aces. But the poker gods had other plans and gave the South African a river flush. Seven hands later, Mercier was out of the tournament at the hands of the chip leader, Cates. Mercier didn’t leave Johannesburg empty-handed, though, winning $200,000.
Heads-up play lasted only 12 hands because of the difference in stack sizes. Cates had 836,000 chips to start the final run while Pather had only 164,000. Cates quickly started his aggression, winning nine pots in a row. The South African had to make a move and did so by shoving his King-Jack hand. The “jungleman” called with a dominated Jack-Ten that transformed post-flop into a huge full house, giving him first place plus $500,000 and a $24,000 special edition pair of Monster headphones. The runner-up cashed in $275,000.
Congratulations to Daniel “jungleman” Cates, who won the first major live title of his career. Will he be back for more?