Frog poison & psychedelics: Super high roller gets super high in the jungle, man 

Craig Tapscott
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Posted on: December 7, 2023 7:18 pm EST

High-stakes crusher Dan “Jungleman” Cates has been one of the stars of GGPoker’s breakout Game of Gold show. He’s in the final, which plays out on Friday (midday UTC) with a $456,000 winner-take-all prize on the line.

Eagle-eyed viewers will have spotted that Jungleman is on a spiritual journey, spending time on set reading Gurudev’s “An Intimate Note to the Sincere Seeker” — before putting it to one side to tell teammate Yoh Viral to “go f**k yourself”. The journey is the journey, though. “Kind of ironic I’m reading a spiritual book,” Jungleman added with third-eye awareness.

But Jungleman is doing more than just reading. He recently went on an ayahuasca retreat in the Costa Rican jungle, where he took a trip into himself. This is what happened, in Jungleman’s own words, as narrated to PokerOrg’s Craig Tapscott.

Jungleman on Game of Gold

“So, Costa Rica, there’s really a lot to say about my ayahuasca experience.

The first thing they had us do, which actually started before the journey, we had to give up sugar for two weeks, give up caffeine, and also give up table salt, so, you know, it already started difficult. I slowly got into it and finally I was, like, basically right there, I was pure. I actually got there.

And then once we got there, we went to the jungle of Costa Rica, and then we got to do this frog poison stuff. We had to put this frog poison on our skin; it’s supposed to purge toxins. It’s supposed to make you super sick, so it already kinda freaked me out. So I just did it, I got super sick, whatever, I couldn’t take the frog poison too much.

But then after that, we did the ayahuasca, which is actually a detox, a dopamine detox, because you don’t have your phone for 12 hours. No one’s used to that, but on top of that, you take this gross-ass liquid and it’s kind of like LSD. I didn’t have a bad trip at all.

And a bunch of things happened on the inside of me… I closed my eyes and had realizations that, from an atheist point of view, looked run of the mill. But if you look at it in terms of trying to derive meaning from it, some miracles happened. And, on top of that, some other crazy stuff.

I realized lots of things, and I did gain a lot more willpower from this. What happened was, as we’re waking up, you could see like the whole Milky Way. That was really awesome.

And then later, there were a bunch of ponies that came, and they all kind of strode into the area when dawn came. So it was like a small miracle.

There were other things that happened. Like, an example of a realization that happened: I saw lots of shapes that turned from something beautiful, like AI art, into, like, insects or other kinds of weird animals. And I realized it’s showing how things are all connected…I find insects kind of gross, and it’s a way of viewing them as not so different after all, kind of usual, in fact, familiarizing them, like a psychological conditioning mechanism. If you have an aversion to something, like a food or whatever, they actually do this.

And so, another thing that happened was, when the first ayahuasca was over, I was out watching this big crab. I was picking it up and playing with it, but then it showed its legs, and its legs are kind of hairy, and they reminded me of a spider’s legs. I thought it was cute, but then I was freaked out when I touched it, I was like, ‘f**k’. But I realized this thing that I thought was cute was so closely related to spiders, which I despise, and I was like, ‘OK, maybe there’s a lesson there.’

I had a lot of realizations like that—a lot of things that were to do with bigger issues that I was dealing with, actually. I realize this was, like, one of the smaller ones. The bigger ones…I’m a little shy to say, but one was this problem with a girl, and I basically ended up seeing things from her perspective.

I also saw something from a video game I played a long time ago, where basically it showed that some bad things that happened had to be done for a higher purpose. And I realized, ‘oh shit, this game that I played when I was 15 gave me a life lesson later on in my life.’

Mariano bets river against Jungleman
Jungleman in action in a more familiar environment

I wouldn’t say I experienced feeling at one with a larger consciousness, it’s very hard to achieve that state. It’s more like something you take a really hard psychedelic for, it’s like a high-level state. So yeah, I haven’t experienced that, but one thing that did happen was, at one point, I realized all these stupid visions I’m seeing, I realized, ‘OK, this is essentially God’ and I was like, ‘What’s the point? Why doesn’t God just show himself?’

And then I saw what looked like a white light coming down a narrow hallway that was sort of digitized, and I realized it was implying that it’s actually a better experience to chase God rather than have him reveal himself, or whatever. It’s a better situation, like if you watch a movie, you don’t just want to see the ending, you want to go through the entire movie. That was my realization.”

Watch Jungleman and five other players in the Game of Gold finale on Friday, December 8 at midday UTC.

Feature image courtesy of PokerGO