Dan Callaghan: The Horse Whisperer

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Dan Callaghan: The Horse Whisperer Audio


Lee Davy interviews PKR sponsored pro, Dan Callaghan, during his deep run in the Monster Stack event. 

To prove how committed I am to my job; I interview PKR Pro Dan Callaghan in the toilet line. I only stop when we reached into our pants. We were talking about horses at the time. I was started to feel a little inferior. I am Chinese after all.

Dan Callaghan: The Horse WhispererI like Dan Callaghan. If he walked onto the Britain’s Got Talent stage, Simon Cowell would create a ‘Like’ button and press it. There is always a one liner rolling off his tongue, a pun waiting to be delivered, but he is also confident enough to deliver a few shots of vulnerability.

He is over six feet tall. In the UK we could call him a lanky string of piss, and yet he was once groomed to be the next Frankie Dettori (minus the cocaine use). That fascinated me enough to allow his urine to dribble on my bare feet.

This is what he had to say in between shakes.

How has the series been going for you?

“It’s been ok. We had the PKR party last night. All the qualifiers were there, and it’s always good to mix with the team. I am operating on four hours sleep. We promised we would take it easy, but had a 6am rendezvous with room service. This is the first time I have ever gotten past Level 4. I keep getting told off for not putting my antes in, but I’m not used to it.”

What have you been playing?

“I’ve been playing all the headline events. I did play a Shootout event. I was drawing dead as soon as we started. It was a difficult table. I got it in good for the chip lead, but it was brutal. They weren’t just regs, they were sickos. I thought I would have gotten a table of players who limp-fold but it was the exact opposite.”

What’s a good series for you?

“I would take break-even. Then at least it would have been a free holiday. This is my eighth night out in a row. We keep saying we will be more sensible but it’s not happening.”

Tell me about your earlier years as a jockey.

“My mother was an instructor, and used to train racehorses, so I guess I didn’t have a choice. Perhaps, the horse manure is why I am so tall. I was literally born in a stable, a bit like Jesus.”

Are you a horse lover?

“We’ve got a couple of horses. Most of my childhood memories are cleaning stables. We had so many horses that the fun was kind of squeezed out of it.”

Was you groomed to be a jockey?

“I think it’s like anything in life. Whatever you get into when you are younger is how you evolve. It’s like table manners, and the way you behave in general. All parents can give you is their own expertise. My Mum would have loved me to get into the game. It was spoken about when I was 4-5. I was riding at a decent standard when I was 6-7. My Dad is tiny, and my Mum is of average height. Perhaps we have to blame the milkman?”

How do 5-6 year olds race? Isn’t it dangerous?

“We get a little can and tie it to the horses tail so it sounds like a motorbike. Seriously, you only ride on little ponies. Most of the shows you win, when you are a kid, are more like games rather than hurtling 300mph down the track, jumping 11 feet high fences.”

Did you ever get into horse betting?

“My Dad was into it. He had a black book of skills. I’ve never been into gambling. I see poker as an investment. I prefer the odds to be stacked in my favor. I once got a dead cert, I lumped on it and it was a non runner so I gave up on that.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants a sponsorship deal?

“A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time. Knowing the right people is also important. I’m not saying my PKR sponsorship was an inside job. I was familiar with the website, and PKR knew who I was because I had played on their for a long time. I had also socialized with the community. You need a personality, and people don’t know if you have one if you are sat behind an avatar online.”

Do you think that more people should move from PokerStars to the smaller sites to improve their chances of getting attention?

“Why not? Jake Cody is a good example of that. He was a PKR pro. I guess it depends on what you want? For me, it’s loyalty and team building. PKR is where my heart is. They are like a first girlfriend. They get to know you personally, and in terms of longevity you will be around longer. Look at the footballers that are now being sponsored by Stars. For me that kills the illusion somewhat. I don’t care how Ronaldo plays poker. He is never going to be a poker icon because he is too invested in football.”

What do you need to work on in order to improve?

“Discipline. Life discipline. I am getting wrecked every night. I succumb to peer pressure. I am a sheep. I want to be a leader. I just like to party. I am a station but don’t tell anyone. I need to find the fold button a lot more. That’s what I am working on. I have a good gut and know when to fold, but I often flick it in anyway. Not everyone can be perfect.”

Jake Cody is.


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