Who is poker’s greatest enigma? Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom might have had a legitimate claim to that title before his cover was blown live at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Phil Ivey’s mystique is timeless and while the high roller set count him as one of their own it’s said that very few ever get close to truly knowing the man with 10 WSOP bracelets. Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, however, might just be one on his own in the poker world. Is he, however, about to leave poker behind?
No-one really knows much of what goes through Jungleman’s mind most of the time, but that isn’t usually a problem. Poker fans normally just want to see ‘Jungle’ in his element, in a high roller cash game or nosebleed-entry tournament.
Recent events have changed that popular opinion a lot.
Last week, Jungleman was accused by playing in a high stakes poker game against players including but not limited to Bill Perkins. When Perkins blew the whistle, the accusation was clear: Jungleman had used another players account to beat Perkins under a false name.
Far from denying the claims, Jungleman admitted his crime and promised to “make things right” in a Twitter post that garnered as much praise as it did condemnation.
Fast-forward a few days and it seems like Jungleman may be about to leave poker behind as he looks to develop his considerable talents in new areas of life.
“In spite of few pretty messed up things happening, I’ve been fortunate to be able to work on my career, personal life, and have a few tales to tell,” Jungleman says in his lengthy blog post. “[I] got screwed over a bit in new ways and in a scandal somehow despite having the tiniest role. So, I got something possibly worth more than money: life lessons and experience!”
That’s one way of putting it. As Jungleman expands upon, he is looking to pastures new and potentially leaving poker to more of a back-seat role in his life going forward.
“Poker no longer satisfies my ambitions,” Jungleman goes on to say. “I have largely been working on a new career path. One where I will hopefully be able to align my crazy ambitions and selfish motives towards what is better for doing good in the world.”
Jungleman’s poker career may have been a chequered path to tread, but it’s clear that the man who has $7.3m in live winnings alone appreciates the luxuries and life choices that his proficiency at the game have afforded him.
“Poker was and possibly still is an excellent way to go from having not much money to having enough to give one freedom, but not to make world-changing money or to do much good,” he says. “To be clear, I am not quitting poker, just shifting focus unless big opportunities or games come. Much of what I did over lock down is aimed towards these ends, and I will have to be a far superior version of myself to accomplish my goals.”
Cut out of the big game action or truly making a new life choice towards a very different future? Time will tell. While Jungleman leaving poker is something that we won’t likely have to face for some time yet, the fallout from a period of his life that has been damaging to him on a personal level – if insomnia is a good indication – is clear. For now, life in the poker jungle may have to deal without the lion who has the loudest roar.
Let’s hope for entertainment’s sake that the law of the ‘Jungle’ is back on the right side of the felt before too long. He’s simply far too box office to keep fans from wanting tickets for too long. Even the players, as much as some might protest at the moment, would miss him.