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At the height of the poker boom, it was easy for players and fans around the world to log on to any given online poker site and play, as well as watch others play. The high-stakes tables were a treat to watch, as one could see some of the best-known players – Ivey, Hansen, Antonius – playing for huge pots. It was during that heyday that the Durrr Challenge began.

Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Dan “Jungleman” Cates were two of those players that attracted large crowds to the online tables. Both were known to engage in frequent prop bets and accept challenges to showcase their poker skills.

Dwan was the instigator of the challenge in 2009, putting it out into the online poker universe that he wanted to play almost anyone in a challenge that involved at least 50,000 hands of online poker at $200/$400 limits or higher. They had to play at least four tables at the same time in either No Limit Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha. Dwan had to be up at least $1 to win $500K, in addition to any money won at the tables, but if Dwan was losing by at least $1, he agreed to play his opponent $1.5 million.

Durrrr versus Jungleman

Cates accepted, and the two agreed to begin the action on Full Tilt Poker, which was active and still very popular when the games officially began in 2011. Players railed the online tables regularly when they were made aware through social media that a game was underway. Many players even wagered on the eventual overall “Durrrr Challenge” results.

Nearly 20,000 hands into the challenge, Black Friday happened, and Full Tilt famously dissolved into a massive mess. The two pledged to continue their challenge on a site like PokerStars when the dust settled from Black Friday. But time passed, they both agreed to an incentive problem to push the action, which consisted of Dwan paying $40K to cates for every two months that passed without any games with exceptions only for the summer World Series of Poker. They resumed briefly in 2013 to play approximately 2,500 hands, but nothing happened in 2014 or 2015, and the two still have yet to complete the challenge. The penalties now likely exceed the amount Dwan initially lost to Cates.

At the point that the action stopped, there were 30,665 hands remaining, and Cates was up more than $1.25 million, without including penalties.

Each year, speculation abounds that the Durrrr Challenge will resume, but it has yet to happen. Dwan has been largely absent from poker since Black Friday, though Cates is always willing to discuss the topic, as he does communicate with Dwan about it on occasion.

Does Anyone Care?

While Cates remains optimistic that the challenge will come to an end in a positive way at some point, the public’s interest has waned drastically. Dwan seems to care little about fulfilling the challenge or even making an effort to pay his debt and move on. Furthermore, Dwan has rarely even been seen in poker in the past years, live or online, prompting many to speculate that he may be broke or involved in nefarious activities. Friend Winfred Yu told PokerNews last year that neither theory is true, as Dwan mainly only plays live high-stakes cash games in Macau.

Last year, poker pro Doug Polk asserted that the Durrrr Challenge was a scam, and Polk can be seen talking about it just past the 12-minute mark here:


Cates told CardPlayer, however, that he doesn’t believe it was a scam at all. “I’m not happy with how it has gone,” he said, “but I am trying to resolve things with Tom. He has been somewhat cooperative. He’s been in a bit of trouble and I guess gambled beyond his means or something. He’s been busy with some pretty big stuff lately. I hope that we get it resolved this year.”

Poker fans seem to have more fun speculating about the whereabouts of Dwan than seeing the challenge resume. And even if the matches were to find an online home and a schedule for action between Dwan and Cates, there would be little interest in watching it other than to troll Dwan in the comment box. Many players in Europe and the United States can no longer access dot-com sites anyway, and any site would have to make a special arrangement to host such high-stakes online games.

In short, few players would watch. The general consensus seems to be that Dwan should pay out of the challenge, even if it involves some kind of settlement with Cates. Flaking on a bet, especially one as well-known and oft-discussed as this, is frowned upon in the world of poker.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.