In a day and age when poker players and fans often complain that there isn’t enough personality in the game of poker, it was quite surprising to see Dan “Jungleman” Cates show up to something as serious as the 2021 WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship final table dressed up as a popular Japanese anime character. But there he was, blue hair and all. And at the end of what he called the “final battle,” Cates emerged victorious to earn his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet, his name engraved on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, and the tournament’s top cash prize of $954,020
Daniel Cates steals the show, completes dramatic comeback
Ahead of Day 4 of the Poker Players Championship, Cates called on the poker community and his Twitter followers to “lend me your positive energy, support, and information on players!” This reminded fans of Son Goku, the main character of the popular Japanese anime series Dragon Ball Z, calling for everyone around the world to lend him their energy and spirit to use in his special move, the “Spirit Bomb.”
Cates fully committed to the bit. “You know what f**k it,” Cates tweeted on Thursday morning. “Let’s hit these guys with a spirit bomb at the final table of the [Poker Players Championship]. Where can I dye my hair gold? Can I bring a blue stuffed ball to the final table?” After doing some research on the various transformations that Goku has gone through over the years, Cates eventually settled on blue hair.
There may have been some magic in Cates channeling the energy of his fans after all. At one point during an epic three-way clash among Cates, Ryan Leng and Paul Volpe, Cates was down to one last big bet in limit hold’em. Leng put in a value-bet with ace-five on an ace-jack-seven-nine-king board and Cates raised all-in for his last 900,000. Despite getting 11-to-1 on a call with top pair, Leng decided it was too unlikely that Cates was bluffing, and made the fold face-up. Cates triumphantly flipped over the king-queen, winning the big pot on a bluff to spark a comeback that would eventually lead to his victory.
The final table was loaded with elite players
The Poker Players Championship drew 63 players to generate a total prize pool of $3,016,125. The top ten players in the field made the money. Dan Cates was one of only three players in the top ten who had never won a bracelet, along with Chris Brewer and Matt Glantz. Every other player that finished in the top ten had at least two bracelets to their name: Ryan Leng (three bracelets), Paul Volpe (three), Eli Elezra (four), Josh Arieh (three at the time, now four after winning Event #66), Nick Schulman (four), Daniel Negreanu (six) and Mike Wattel (two).
Friday’s Day 5 took over 13 hours to complete. Dragon Ball Z fans fondly remember the time that Son Goku and the Z-Warriors used the spirit bomb to defeat Vegeta in the Saiyan invasion of earth. Dan Cates fans won’t soon forget this final battle victory, either.
Top Ten Payouts
1. Dan Cates: $954,020
2. Ryan Leng: $589,628
3. Paul Volpe: $404,243
4. Eli Elezra: $286,983
5. Chris Brewer: $211,235
6. Josh Arieh: $161,422
7. Matt Glantz: $128,256
8. Nick Schulman: $106,120
9. Daniel Negreanu: $91,595
10. Mike Wattel: $82,623
Featured Image Credit: PokerGO