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Dan Cates Wins 2021 World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship

'Jungleman' Earned $954,020 and His First Bracelet After Defeating A Field of 63 Entries


Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates is renowned in the poker world as a high-stakes cash game crusher, having battled at the highest stakes in both the online and live arenas. What some fans of the game might not realize is that the 31-year-old poker pro came into this year’s World Series of Poker with nearly $9 million in prior tournament earnings to his name. Cates added to that total in a major way at the 2021 WSOP by taking down the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship nine-game event, defeating an elite field of 63 entries to earn the top prize of $954,020 and his first gold bracelet.

“Oh yeah, one of those bracelet things,” said Cates, who had died his hair a shocking shade of neon turquoise and dressed as a video game character for the final table of this event. “It is actually pretty cool and I’m happy to have won one. I think I have one of each now, [with wins in] the World Poker Tour Alpha8 and I have a Triton Poker win. I think that gives me the trifecta, I am not sure how that works. Did I win a European Poker Tour? I don’t know. But this is pretty cool, especially [to win] a tournament that is named after Chip Reese, who has passed away.”

Dan 'Jungleman' CatesThis was the fourth-largest tournament score of Cates’ career, which increased his lifetime tournament earnings to $9,868,264. While Cates has recorded three larger scores with deep runs in six-figure events that ended short of the title, this was the biggest payday he received for a victory in a tournament. For Cates, coming out on top this time around was a forgone conclusion.

“I knew I was going to win. I said I was going to win, so I won,” Cates told the gathered poker media after closing out the title after 3:00 a.m. local time. The final table lasted more than 13 hours.

In addition to the money and the bracelet, Cates was also awarded 612 Card Player Player of the Year points and 572 PokerGO Tour after surviving this marathon final table. This was his first qualifying score for either points race.

The final day of this prestigious began with just five players remaining and Eli Elezra in the lead. Josh Arieh made the official final table but was eliminated in sixth place ($161,422) before the event returned for the live-streamed final table. Arieh won his fourth bracelet by taking down the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better event, playing out that final table some 30 feet from the final table of this event.

Rising high roller tournament star Chris Brewer began the day just a handful of big blinds short of the lead, but he slid a bit and then doubled up a short stack to find himself at the bottom of the chip counts. Brewer soon found himself all-in with pocket sevens up against the pocket jacks of three-time bracelet winner Ryan Leng. Most of the chips went in preflop, and the rest followed on the flop despite both an ace and a queen hitting the board. Brewer was unable to come from behind and was eliminated in fifth place, earning $211,235 for his first WSOP final-table finish.

Eli ElezraDespite coming into the day as the leader, Elezra spent several hours as the short stack after Brewer was eliminated. The four-time bracelet managed a few comebacks to put himself out of the danger zone, but he was eventually sent to the rail in fourth place. He got the last of his chips in the middle on fifth street playing razz and was at risk against three-time bracelet winner Paul Volpe. The final boards looked as follows:

Elezra: (6-5)A-10-7-6(5)
Volpe: (6-4)A-2-Q-10(9)

Volpe improved to a 9-6 low on seventh street to best the 10-7 of Elezra, who earned $286,983 for his fourth-place showing. Volpe overtook the chip lead after the hand.

Three-handed play lasted more than five hours, with multiple lead changes along the way as Cates and the pair of three-time bracelet winners slugged it out across the nine games included in this event’s mix: no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, no-limit single-draw deuce-to-seven lowball, limit triple draw deuce-to-seven lowball, seven card stud, stud eight-or-better, razz, limit Omaha eight-or-better, and limit hold’em.

As 2:00 a.m. approached Cates overtook the lead thanks to a sizable razz pot won against Volpe. He was able to pull further away from the pack, leaving the other two to jockey for position as they tried to survive to heads-up play. Volpe was ultimately the next to fall. He got the last of his chips in with KSpade Suit6Heart Suit in limit hold’em, with the last bets going into the middle after a QSpade Suit10Club Suit2Heart Suit flop. Cates called with KDiamond Suit2Spade Suit for bottom pair. The 2Club Suit turn improved Cates to trip deuces to leave Volpe drawing dead. The 7Spade Suit was a mere formality to make Volpe’s elimination in third place ($404,243) official.

Ryan LengCates took more than a 5:1 chip lead into heads-up play with Leng, who had earned his third bracelet just a few weeks earlier by taking down the $1,500 eight-game six-max event. Leng earned an early double-up and closed the gap even further after that, but Cates was able to regain control thanks to a few key wins in no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball and stud eight-or-better. Leng doubled up again, picking up pocket aces against the pocket sixes of Cates in no-limit hold’em. Leng slid back down the leaderboard after that, though, and was critically short heading into what would be the final round of limit hold’em for the event.

In the final hand, Leng had nearly half of his chips posted in the big blind. Cates raised on the button with QClub Suit3Diamond Suit and leng defended with 10Diamond Suit5Spade Suit. The AHeart SuitJHeart Suit10Heart Suit flop saw Leng bet his last 100,000 with bottom pair. Cates called with his gutshot draw and overcard, and hit a pair of queens on the QHeart Suit turn to take the lead. The 3Spade Suit on the river improved Cates to two pair, locking up the pot and the title for the ‘Jungleman’. Leng earned $589,628 for his third top-two finish of the 2021 WSOP, having also placed second in the $1,500 ‘MonsterStack’ event shortly after winning his third bracelet a few weeks ago. This was the largest cash of his career. It increased his lifetime earnings to more than $3.1 million.

Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points PokerGO
1 Daniel Cates $954,020 612 572
2 Ryan Leng $589,628 510 354
3 Paul Volpe $404,243 408 243
4 Eli Elezra $286,983 306 172
5 Chris Brewer $211,235 255 127
6 Josh Arieh $161,422 204 97