Paul Phua with Dan Cates: How to Become a Successful Poker Player

2 years ago
Paul Phua with Dan Cates: How to Become a Successful Poker Player
09:15
06 Jul

Co-incidences have a habit of turning up when you least expect them (otherwise they wouldn’t really be co-incidences I guess) and today saw me reading about Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates exiting the Poker Players Championship just as part 2 of his Paul Phua ‘In conversation with…’ piece landed in my inbox, the high-stakes poker friends starting out with the question ‘How do you plan for a big pot?’

This question is perfect for both ‘Jungleman’ and Phua, of course, because between them they have played some of the biggest cash pots in history in the Macau nosebleed games, Cates also having his share of huge pots online and pretty much everywhere else.



"I don’t think you plan it,” states Phua, reminding viewers that the dynamics of poker mean that you can’t just force things the way you want all the time. Cates, for his part, thinks that bluffing is one area where you can actually invest time and thought about forward-planning.

“The one thing l think about more is how many bluffs do l want to turn up with,” he tells the multi-billionaire Malaysian businessman turned pretty much poker pro, although he emphasises that it’s “kind of a complicated subject” when Phua mentions building a big pot on the flop and turn just to lay a huge bluff on the river.

“l think about stuff like that, but mostly l try to play big pots with big hands!” says Cates, and that’s exactly what I was reading from last night’s WSOP action, Cates this time on the receiving end as his AK suited shove was met by the pocket rockets of Mark Gregorich, the sweat when the flop offered flush possibilities unfortunately not ending well for Jungleman.

Cates tells Phua:  "l’d 3-bet the biggest hands, obviously,” as the conversation touches on pre-flop raise and re-raises – always a topic we want to hear the big boys of poker talking about, and he adds, “but also, like, the bluffs that play the best post-flop, the “best bluffs” so to speak. Like 6-5 suited, 5-3 suited, obviously.”

Obviously! Well, this is why the Paul Phua Poker series with Jungleman and other top names such as Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan, Dan Colman and Phil Ivey is so impressive. It’s like having 3 or 4 minute pep talks and training with the best in the world.

Stack sizes, position, playing styles – they all get a quick workout this week, with Cates discussing that troublesome hand AJ offsuit which has cost almost everybody a lot of money at some point or another.

“If someone plays either like tight or aggressive or whatever, l would rather not 3-bet something like AJ offsuit. But if they play passive, and like, just call down or don’t have too many moves, l’d rather 3-bet AJ offsuit a lot,” says  Jungleman, so now you know.


Phua adds his own philosophy and experience into the mix, and although it might seem obvious to many pros and strong amateurs, it still needs to be said:

“l think the game has evolved so much during the past 10 years …most players at the table will want to be aggressive, which means they 3-bet more, raise more, 4-bet more. I want to have the initiative after the flop, which means you are the aggressor. That’s why you see the game has evolved to this scenario. Do you agree?”

“Yeah, for sure,” Cates says, but naturally if he didn’t agree he would say so – friends or otherwise, poker’s best players don’t bullshit when it comes to strategy!

Personally I’m hoping for a part 3 with Jungleman Cates, but if it doesn’t happen it’s a sure-fire bet that Paul Phua will enlist another of his mega-talented friends to bring us new insights into the game.

If you haven’t checked out his poker school and videos, give them a go – free to subscribe and lessons from the masters. You know it makes sense.


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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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