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Railbird Report: Tom Dwan Paid Dan Cates $700,000 in Penalties

Dan Cates, Viktor Blom, Tom Dwan
  • Dan Cates tells stories from the high-stakes games in Asia, then talks Durrrr Challenge and rips on Isildur.

For years, it wasn't easy to get insights into the world of high-stakes poker. The television show with the same name helped a bit, but despite the dressed up set like it was played in someone's hotel room, it was still a television show and a lot of the talk between players was cut out as the focus was on the poker action itself.

Other than those sparse comments about the action on TV, we had to rely on comments at forums like TwoPlusTwo where someone had railed a big game, or overheard players talking on break.

Luckily for us, the age of podcasts is here. And in the unique world of poker, it's top-tier players doing the hosting. In a lot of other environments, the hosting is reserved for enthusiastic journalists, hoping to get a top professional on the show. With poker, it's actual poker players doing the hosting. Joey Ingram is a prime example, as is Fedor Holz who's now even hosting a podcast. Another great one to follow for inside information and high-level conversations about the world of poker is Doug Polk.

"He's just like not professional enough"

Yesterday, Polk had Dan "Jungleman" Cates on his YouTube channel, and "The Jungle" had some interesting things to say. Watching the entire podcast will take you two hours and, while time-consuming, is highly recommended. David Huber marked down the timestamps for the biggest subjects discussed, over on

The two covered an array of topics like bots, criticism on PokerStars, a player winning US$30 million in Asia, and playing short-deck hold'em. But the two most interesting discussions involved Viktor Blom and Tom Dwan.

Viktor "Isildur1" Blom, who we featured in the Railbird Report last week, is up $1,179,482 on PokerStars this year, which makes him the second biggest winner. Despite those impressive numbers, Polk and Cates were anything but impressed. Polk (at 33:20 in the video) said that Blom (and some other Swedish high stakes players) aren't where they need to be on the technical side of their game. While Polk said they make up for that with aggression and praised their style, Cates fully agreed that their fundamentals weren't up to par.

Railbird Report: Tom Dwan Paid Dan Cates 0,000 in Penalties 101

Cates (46:42): "I think Isildur is fighting an uphill battle and I think that what he's doing is like optimistic and I would short him in the future if I could do such a thing. I'm like really tempted to bet on Raul's side. [...] poker is just getting more and more competitive, particularly on Stars — the high stakes.

"He's just like not professional enough, [...] he just doesn't approach things with enough analysis that I think is really necessary [...] He plays in the toughest games possible pretty much ... that's really is his major flaw. He has to do more work on the side. [...] There's no way he's the favorite versus Raul at 2-7."

The Raul they are talking about is "RaúlGonzalez", a player who's been battling Blom recently. The German player is up $837,792 overall according to HighStakesDB, and up $95,342 for the year.

At 50:18 in the video, Cates adds that Blom isn't doing everything he could to be the best. "Other people are just much more professional than he is. Although he got like all the talent, [...] it's just not enough these days. I mean, you're kinda rooting for him, but it's kinda like 'Bro... what the fuck are you doing?'

What Cates is hinting at, is the fact that all these players spend enormous amounts of time studying the game, running simulations, doing their homework. Blom doesn't do that. He told PokerNews this following back in March: "I think about different situations like this sometimes but I've never really done real studying or watch a video or something. No software, nothing like that. But I play quite a lot and I believe that you learn more from playing than from studying."

"I don't know what the fuck he thinks in this particular case."

Besides commenting on Blom, a large portion of the podcast was reserved for Tom "durrrr" Dwan and the "durrrr challenge". Polk called the challenge the largest scam in poker not too long ago, but that was nuanced a little in Wednesday's podcast. While Polk didn't take back his words calling it a scam, Cates said (56:42) that Dwan had paid him between $700,000 and $800,000 in penalties for not playing.

"First thing I want to point out, he feels people have been a little bit unreasonable to him because he's been [...] paying me penalties every two months lately. [...] He wants me to point out that actually he has given me, essentially, like $700K to $800K US basically in penalties since 2010. Which is like a pretty large sum. [...] We're trying to resolve it."

Dan Cates

Dwan has indicated that he wants to finish the challenge. The two still need to play more than half of the 50,000 hands, with Cates up $1,251,059. The challenge, which started in August 2010, will finish before the end of 2018, said Cates. That remains to be seen, but the bigger question Polk and Cates discussed is why Dwan wants to finish instead of buying out of the bet.

When Dwan issued the challenge to the world, he was on top of the game. He thought he had such a big edge, he offered 3-to-1 on $500,000, meaning he would receive an additional $500,000 if he would beat someone over a 50,000-hand sample (on top of what was won in the hands itself), but would pay out $1.5 million if he lost. Dwan is still playing, and according to rumors, still very high stakes, but is by no means anywhere close to one of the top no-limit hold'em players in the world anymore. Cates (1:05:23): "I don't know what the fuck he thinks in this particular case. I'm like sitting here thinking to myself, what does he think I've been doing like all this time. I think I've gotten a lot better since I played him actually [...]"

Three Biggest Pots Online

Last week, we looked at the biggest pots of the summer. This time around, we only have a week of action to pick from. Still, some sizable pots took place at PokerStars. The most remarkable of the top three comes last as Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro wins an interesting showdown against "Grazvis1".

1) "Grazvis1" Wins Most in $123,676 Pot (309 Big Blinds) of Viktor "Isildur1" Blom and "BERRI SWEET"
($200/$400 PLO 3-handed)

Railbird Report: Tom Dwan Paid Dan Cates 0,000 in Penalties 102
Click for replay via HighStakesDB

In this 3-handed game, Blom was first to act and raised to $1,640 from the button. Small blind "Grazvis1" three-bet to $5,560 before big blind "BERRI SWEET" cold-four-bet to $18,560. Blom called all in for $15,474 and "Grazvis1" called as well to create a $53,074 pot.

The flop came {10-Hearts}{6-Clubs}{4-Hearts} and "Grazvis1" checked. "BERRI SWEET" shoved all in for a bit more than the $35,301 "Grazvis1" still had behind. The latter called all in to make it three-way.

Viktor "Isildur1" Blom{9-Diamonds}{8-Clubs}{Q-Clubs}{J-Diamonds}32.28%
"BERRI SWEET"{10-Clubs}{A-Spades}{A-Hearts}{2-Spades}19.37%

"Grazvis1" was well in front with tens and fours. All three agreed to run the turn and river twice. The first time it came {9-Hearts}{4-Spades}, improving "Grazvis1" to a full house which secured him half of the entire pot.

The second time it came {Q-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}, which made Blom a straight. He received half of the main pot, while the side pot went to "Grazvis1" who improved to tens and sevens.

2) "BERRI SWEET" Wins a $92,220 Pot (231 Big Blinds) Off Viktor "Isildur1" Blom
($200/$400 PLO 3-handed)

Railbird Report: Tom Dwan Paid Dan Cates 0,000 in Penalties 103
Click for replay via HighStakesDB

"BERRI SWEET" opened the button for $1,640 and small blind Blom three-bet to $5,560. Big blind "Grazvis1" got out of the way and "BERRI SWEET" four-bet to $17,320. Blom called out of position to see a flop in a $35,520-pot.

Blom had under pot behind and pushed on {7-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{4-Spades}. "BERRI SWEET" had even fewer chips behind and called all in for $28,350.

PlayerHand% Pre % Post 
Viktor "Isildur1" Blom{Q-Diamonds}{9-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{A-Hearts}25.48%(2.25%)35.00%(0.12%)
"BERRI SWEET"{A-Spades}{Q-Spades}{J-Diamonds}{A-Diamonds}72.27%(2.25%)64.88%(0.12%)

Again, the players decided to run the turn and river twice. The first time, Blom picked up a flush draw with the {5-Hearts} on the turn, but the {3-Diamonds} on the river was useless. On the second run, Blom cought the {4-Hearts} on the turn for another flush draw but the {7-Spades} on the river was again no help, so the entire pot was pushed towards "BERRI SWEET".

3) Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro Wins a $86,226 Pot (216 Big Blinds) Off "Grazvis1"
($200/$400 PLO 3-handed)

Railbird Report: Tom Dwan Paid Dan Cates 0,000 in Penalties 104
Click for replay via HighStakesDB

Kelopuro opened his button for $1,400 before small blind "Grazvis1" three-bet to $4,600. Big blind Blom folded, Kelopuro called in position.

With $9,600 in the middle and {4-Spades}{4-Hearts}{9-Spades} on the flop, "Grazvis1" bet $3,358.25. Kelopuro raised to $9,200 and "Grazvis1" called.

An even $28,000 waited in the middle as the {5-Hearts} hit the turn. "Grazvis1" bet out $9,798.25 and Kelopuro called.

As the {8-Hearts} completed the board, the pot was $47,596.50. "Grazvis1" checked and Kelopuro shoved for $19,329.60. "Grazvis1" called with {A-Clubs}{8-Spades}{6-Spades}{5-Clubs} for two pair and some blockers on this straighty and flushy board.

Kelopuro didn't have a full house or flush either, but did win the pot as his backdoored straight with {10-Spades}{8-Clubs}{7-Spades}{6-Hearts} was enough to take down the sizable pot.

Online High-Stakes Action Last 7 Days

Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro remains the second biggest losing player for the year, but did finish up top this week. He won almost quarter of a million dollars, but is still down half a million for the year. Chun "SamRostan" Lei-Zhou ended up the biggest losing player this week.

 (user)namehandsprofit/loss this weekprofit/loss 2017profit/loss all time
 Winning Players    
1Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro5,490+$225,769-$503,124-$1,206,288
7Jonas "OtB_RedBaron" Mols1,492+$41,205+$197,967+$2,455,253
8Ignat "0Human0" Liviu982+$36,698+$6,399+$230,107
 Losing Players    
1Chun "SamRostan" Lei-Zhou723-$239,207-$194,781+$250,705
2Viktor "Isildur1" Blom4,722-$103,740+$1,179,482+$2,690,653
3Vyacheslav "1nvoker" Ozhigov3,000-$91,927+$210,204+$122,967
7BERRI SWEET2,766-$33,704+$1,286,471+$1,847,390
8Tom "tjbentham" Bentham1,503-$33,633-$55,734+$99,160
9Dan "w00ki3z." Cates163-$26,830-$374,035+$971,937
Viktor Blom
Viktor Blom

The 2017 Leaderboard

The order for the biggest winning and losing players this year, hasn't changed compared to last week. Timofey "Trueteller" Kuznetsov only played a couple of hands and lost a tiny bit. Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro was this week's biggest winner but remains in 2nd place on the losing bracket. Stern and Perkins were not seen online.

 (user)namehands 2017profit/loss 2017profit/loss per hand 2017profit/loss all time↑/↓most played game 2017
 Winning Players      
1BERRI SWEET27,350+$1,286,471+$47.03+$1,847,390PLO
2Viktor "Isildur1" Blom145,645+$1,179,482+$8.09+$2,690,6538-Game
3Timofey "Trueteller" Kuznetsov41,754+$1,000,256+$23.95+$2,891,023PLO
 Losing Players      
1Dani "supernova9" Stern10,039-$777,373-$77.43-$1,439,781-PLO
2Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro27,374-$503,124-$18.37-$1,206,288PLO
3Bill "GASTRADER" Perkins2,991-$385,379-$111.83-$718,711-NLHM

The above top winning and losing players in online poker for 2017 only consist of PokerStars accounts. All public data courtesy of If you want to opt out of being listed in this PokerNews update on high-stakes action, send an email with your username to

Dani Stern
Dani Stern

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