Jungleman Wins WPT Alpha8 Johannesburg

Daniel “jungleman” Cates has claimed his first major live tournament title, winning a $100,000 buy-in WPT Alpha8 event in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Cates dominated the field pretty much from the start, proving he isn’t just a force to be reckoned with on the virtual felt.

Daniel Jungleman CatesHe outlasted a field including eight other highly skilled players, including Phil Ivey, who recently launched his own poker training site, Philipp Gruissem, who is a regular in these super high rollers, Max Altergott, Antonio Esfandiari, Erik Seidel, and Jason Mercier.

Max Altergott didn’t repeat the success he had just recently in Melbourne, Australia after winning the $25,000 Challenge. He was the first player to get knocked out. Second to hit the rail was Ivey.

Antonio Esfandiari also suffered a similar fate, busting out during the first day’s play but decided to rebuy to try and make it in the money and recoup his losses. Unfortunately for him, though, he ended up busting again on the second day when he got his stack in with a flush draw and one overcard but whiffed on the turn and river.

Following Esfandiari’s bust out, Gruissem was the next player to be sent to the rail after losing two key pots, one against Seidel, and the second big blow was against Gross who caught a lucky break on the river to make the best hand.

Cates, who already had a commanding chip lead, then busted out Seidel in fifth place. This happened after Cates min-raised from the under the gun position at the table and Seidel shoved his remain chips to put his tournament life on the line with pocket sevens. Cates called and tabled pocket tens which had Seidel crushed and a 20-80 underdog. There was no miracle seven, leaving Seidel resigned to the rail.

The money bubble was set and clearly none of the remaining players wanted to make a mistake as it would prove to be a costly one with the third place finisher taking home $200,000 with fourth place getting nothing.

As a result of this dynamic, the play at the final table had become much more conservative with players looking for really good spots to accumulate chips. Finally, the money bubble had burst. It happened when Gross went all-in with A-8 but Cates had him dominated holding pocket eights. With no Ace on the flop, turn, or river, this meant Gross was the unfortunate bubble boy.

After the bubble, play sped up considerably, with the remaining players knowing they have a guaranteed payday. South African Kinesh Pather got all of his chips in the middle in pretty bad shape with K-Q against Mercier’s A-A, but the South African holding the home ground advantage caught a lucky break and hit a rivered flush to keep him in the tournament. Just a few hands later, Mercier busted out, collecting $200,000 for his efforts.

This meant the heads-up battle was contested between the local South African and Cates, however, the online poker enforcer had more than a 5 to 1 chip lead heading into the heads up portion of the $100,000 buy-in high roller.

Due to the significant difference in chip stacks between both players, heads up play didn’t last very long at all. Cates remained aggressive in the final stages of the tournament, winning several hands in consecutive fashion. It was only a matter of time before Pather got desperate and felt like he had to double up through Cates, eventually going all-in with K-J. Cates called with J-T so was dominated, but much like his fortunes during the tournament, ended up making a full house by the river, giving him first place and his biggest live score to date, collecting a massive $500,000 payday. The South African collected $275,000 for his second place finish.