PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®: A wild Jungleman appears

Daniel "Jungleman" Cates is like a rare Pokemon who'll pop up in random places around the world when you least expect it. There was no sign of Cates in the €100,000 Super High Roller, the Main Event or Day 1 of the €25,000 High Roller; so it was quite the surprise to see him stroll into Day 2 of the High Roller.

"I was in Macau at that time," Cates said. "It was just too hard to make it here.

"There was also a game in Hong Kong. There were some things going down there."

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Daniel "Jungleman" Cates

It's hard to imagine what kind of game would keep an incredibly competitive high-stakes player from a €100,000 Super High Roller in Monaco, but there are apparently a few. These kind of games are where Cates has been spending most of his time recently.

In the last three months Cates has darted from Los Angeles to Japan to the Philippines and then he ping ponged between Hong Kong and Macau, chasing the world's largest poker games. A lot of them have starting popping up in the Philippines whenever there's a reason to go. High stakes players will land for a few days, play for millions and disperse until the next one. During his most recent stint in the Philippines, Cates's bankroll was a roller coaster that dipped and rose by the millions.

Cates finished third in a HKD $1,000,000 super high roller in Parañaque City and won USD $1 million, but he also lost $5 million in a marathon 72-hour high-stakes session in Manila.

"The $5 million loss was actually my biggest loss," Cates said. "It was very frustrating.

"I did not run well."

While most of us would have to sell our children, then make more children to sell, to even start making a dent in that kind of loss, Cates was able to recoup his losses before the trip was over.

The huge swings were partly due to a high-variance version of poker that's becoming quite popular in Asia: short-decked no-limit. It follows all the rules of of no-limit Hold'em, but all the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s are taken out of the deck.

"It's pretty new," Cates said. "I guess a lot of VIPs like to play it or something.

"It's for sure more gambly. In terms of action, it's way more action."

There are definitely less stressful ways of learning a living, but Cates loves the game and loves winning at it even more.

"Some of it's ego," Cates said. "I want to beat as many people as I can in whatever games are playing."

It's an asymptotic goal. There will never be a tournament, bracelet or trophy that will make Cates feel like he's accomplished all he can with poker.

"Maybe eventually I'll do something other than poker," Cates said. "There's not really an end game or goal in mind."

It's a constant journey. The next flight. The next game. The next pot. The constant journey of improvement is mirrored in other aspects of his life. Cates brought a healthy pre-packed lunch to his table, cooked by his personal trainer. There's no fixed goal to his training, no marathon or MMA fight, no target weight; just a desire to be healthier, more fit.

Cates isn't even really sure what he's going to do after the high roller, which he busted just after the rebuy period ended. Staying in Europe is a possibility. Maybe he'll go to Romania, relax and play some SCOOPs --he did just fly nearly 10,000 kilometres to get here. But he's also considering going back to Macau to keep playing some of the biggest cash games in the world.

Decisions decisions.

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Monaco's not a bad place to relax...

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...but Macau always beckons.


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Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Alex Villegas
@PokerStars in Monte Carlo