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Jungleman’s inspiring journey of never giving up

Photograph courtesy of | DANIEL ‘Jungleman’ Cates

DANIEL Cates, aka “Jungleman,” went from being a broke teenager to a poker superstar with over $11.6 million in winnings. His story is a real inspiration for all aspiring poker players.

Cates’ is a thrilling tale of never giving up, having the right mindset, reading opponents like a boss, and staying tough when things get rough.

When Cates started playing poker as a teenager in Bowie, Maryland, he quickly drowned in debt. He lost $3,000 to more seasoned players, leading his parents to lock his bank account. To make some cash, he took a gig at McDonald’s, slinging burgers for a month, and managed to earn around $1,000. Naturally, he used that money to get back in the saddle.

This time, Cates took a more cautious approach. He played lower-stakes games online, learning from his opponents and their strategies. He studied their moves and didn’t let losing streaks mess with his head. And you know what? All his efforts paid off handsomely. By the time Cates was 19, he had won over a million bucks in poker, mainly from playing online.

Cates was so passionate about poker that he dropped out of the University of Maryland — where he studied economics — to dedicate all his time to the sport. Unfortunately, he hit another rough patch, losing $600,000 of his hard-earned winnings. But he still didn’t give up. His determination bore fruit over a decade later when he won the Poker Players Championship title at the World Series of Poker in 2021. He beat Brazilian Yuri Dzivielevski the following year and secured another WSOP bracelet with $1,449,103 in prize money.

So what can aspiring poker players learn from Jungleman’s journey? Well, first off, having a growth mindset is key, and so is humility. Don’t be arrogant and think you know it all. Stay open to learning and exploring new possibilities.

Second, stay mentally tough. Losing is part of the game, but it doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Stay determined, be willing to adapt, and never lose hope. Even in his winning years, Cates had losing streaks, but he refused to let that stop him. He didn’t throw in the towel because he believed persistence and a positive mindset would help him go places.

And don’t forget the importance of reading opponents. Cates became a winner because he mastered it. Reading your opponent isn’t just about listening to what they say. It’s also about taking note of everything they do. You should pay attention to how they handle their chips, their overall demeanor, and all the little details about themselves they might not even be aware of. (In other words, their “tells.”) Sometimes the truth reveals itself when they least                             expect it.

Finally, find balance. Cates says he’s gotten better at this over the years. He says those who want to follow in his footsteps should have hobbies, meaningful friendships, and other interests outside the game. Putting all your emotional eggs in one poker-shaped basket is a huge risk. And remember, winning too much can mess with your head, too. Stay grounded and avoid letting overconfidence cloud your judgment.

Daniel Cates’ journey from broke teenager to poker superstar is an incredible example of what could be achieved with the ability to read opponents like a boss, determination, and the right mindset.

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