What Happened to Tom Dwan?

5 years ago
What Happened to Tom Dwan?
19 Oct

Two years after parting ways with Full Tilt, Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan is off the poker community’s radar. Several threads with hundreds of posts have been opened on 2+2 forums since then and still no clear answer. Nobody really knows Dwan’s whereabouts and his recent poker history. Is he playing in Macau? What stakes does he play? Why doesn’t he play online anymore? Why doesn’t he play any major live tournaments? Is he broke? Will he finish the Durrrr Challenge? Has he changed his name into Timmy Dean? And what does the notorious violent Macau’s 14K Triad have to do with ‘durrrr’?

In other words, lots of question,s and not a lot of clear answers. Luckily though for you Dwan fanboys, here at PokerTube we've done thorough research on the matter, connected the dots and came up with the following answers.

It All Started With...Dan ‘jungleman’ Cates and Black Friday

We all know Dwan was the spoiled wizkid of the poker community at the beginning of the decade. He was crushing the nosebleeds and his confidence was off the charts. He believed in his abilities so strongly that he offered 3:1 odds to anyone who could beat him heads-up over a 50,000 hand span.

That’s when Daniel ‘jungleman’ Cates entered the scene accepting the ‘Durrrr Challenge’ and the odds that were just too good to turn down. The stage was set: if Cates lost, he would have to give Dwan $500,000. If he won, Dwan would have to pay him $1.5 million. The heads-up battle started in 2010 with the two playing around 20,000 hands online. Cates was clearly ahead with an impressive profit of $1.3 million. But the challenge came to a sudden halt in the spring of 2011.

Full Tilt and PokerStars were shut down and the players’ bankrolls were seized by the American authorities. As a result, Dwan and Cates couldn’t continue the challenge.They instead had to look elsewhere in order to get action so they tried out the live games in Las Vegas and Macau. That’s when the first rumors of the million dollar stacks in Macau appeared.

In November 2012, Full Tilt reopened and Cates was eager to finish the challenge and boost his bankroll with $1.5 million. However, Dwan wasn’t into playing online poker anymore probably because the live games were much more soft and rewarding. According to HighStakesDB, ‘‘durrrr’ played under 100,000 hands throughout the course of 2012 and 2013 and only 2,500 were part of the ‘Durrrr Challenge.’

Dwan’s Big Issue with FTP and jungleman

On December 2013, Tom Dwan parted ways with Full Tilt Poker. Two months later, he said in an interview he had a ‘big issue’ with FTP but refused to reveal more. In the upcoming months, he had an even bigger issue with Cates who wanted to finish the $1.5 million challenge. ‘durrrr’ wasn’t that interested although he agreed according to Cates to pay $40,000 for every two months without progress in the challenge. ‘jungleman’ threatened to reveal certain aspects of Dwan's private life and the poker community sided with him. Yet, Dwan was unfazed. His camera appearances were fewer and fewer to the point that nobody knew what was up with him. The only sources of information were his Twitter account, a bunch of social media photos, and the Macau illegal sports betting scandal.

The Triad and the Emergence of 'Timmy Dean'

In the summer of 2014, Paul Phua and his son Darren along with Richard Yong and his son Wai Kin, all friends of Dwan, were arrested in Las Vegas. According to several reports, ‘durrrr’ helped the Phuas cause and paid alongside Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl the $2.5 million bail. He also helped one of Phua’s friends with a place to stay during the trial. And if we also add this Instagram photo to the mix, we can clearly see that Dwan was enjoying himself a year ago:

Hanging HazeLV w two of my closest friends @TomDwan and @dianakarimen #brokefamily

A photo posted by Jean-Robert Bellande (brokelivingjrb) on

Paying a huge bail? Helping a Macau friend? A house in Las Vegas? Partying with Survivor: China Jean-Robert Bellande? Not that broke, don’t you think? ‘durrrr’ has clearly made some influential friends in Macau while playing the highest stakes. Some reports talk of stakes as high as HKD50,000/HKD100,000 or $6,000/$12,000 with $500,000 and $1,000,000 stacks. Last year, Card Player Latin America reported about HKD200 million ($25 million) winnings for Dwan denied by the American. He posted on 2+2:

Ya this is all bull****. bunch of little facts and a bunch of big ones wrong. nothing like this happened and at the time of this post i was losing on my current macau trip (altho i did do some rungood since).

This was Timmy Dean in early 2014. Yes, that’s right Timmy Dean, the new and improved Tom Dwan. Since Phua was linked with the notorious 14K Triad - one of the largest international criminal organizations in the world with an estimated 25,000 members - Dwan was also a link in the eyes of the poker community. Many joke that the American is the usual ‘white puppet boy’ of the Triad used to entertain and to fill their bank accounts (many suspect he is actually staked by them; there wouldn’t be any other way to play comfortably at those limits). What better way to do that than letting him loose at the poker table? To better Americanize the image of the ‘white boy’, the users played with words coming up with a new name for Dwan: Timmy Dean. They also made countless poems to mark the occasion. One of them sounds like this:

Dim Tim Dawn

Done Triad wrong

Swim with fishes

All night wong

Dwan Today: More Macau and ‘Durrrr Challenge’

But enough with jokes: where is ‘durrrr’ now? What is he doing? Does he play poker anymore? Of course he does! Do not mind those rumors saying he's broke living in someone’s basement. He’s alive and kicking hard. In May 2015, he was present at the Poker King Club grand opening alongside Ivey, a sign that he’s already a man of the house in Macau.

Later in the summer Cates made an interesting announcement on 2+2 saying that he solved his problem with Dwan and the challenge would hopefully be completed in the next nine-months (jungleman posted on July 27, 2015).

We have completed 25k hands roughly. Tom and I have had some disputes but I believe we have essentially resolved them . The challenge is agreed to be played out in the next 9 months (God-willing). I think tom intends on finishing the challenge but has been distracted by things of great importance... In addition Black Friday greatly hindered our progress.

Winfred Yu, President of the Poker King Club also reignited the ‘durrrr’ topic stating in an interview at the APPT9 Manilla about Dwan’s involvement in the highest cash games in the Philippines. He with Cates and Ivey played and may still be playing stakes as high as $5,000/$10,000 Six-Plus Hold'em - same as the classic NLHE only that the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s are removed from the deck to make the game more about gambling and less about skill.

The Conclusion: Dwan’s still at the poker tables

The short answer to the burning question: What Happened to Tom Dwan? He’s still at the poker tables. Maybe not as we are used to - not in the online environment, his last activity on FT according to HighStakesDB was on December 15, 2013 on 2+2, his last activity was on January 24, 2015 - but definitely on the live green felt.

As you can see, Tom is still a poker player even if he decided to avoid the scrutiny of the poker community. With a little bit of luck, we may also see him in the upcoming months battling with ‘jungleman’ and finally ending the ‘Durrrr Challenge’ and his online poker career.

Because the juiciest games have gone live in places like Macau.

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Florian is a freelance journalist and avid poker player with a strong passion to create unique and appealing stories.He is an experienced researcher on various topics, from business and the financial markets to psychology and the gambling industry.He blogs at Florianghe.com.Read more


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