Daniel Cates Wins WPT Alpha8 Johannesburg Title, $500K

Daniel Cates earned $500,000 and his first major title at WPT Alpha8 Johannesburg. (Photo c/o WPT)

Daniel Cates earned $500,000 and his first major title at WPT Alpha8 Johannesburg. (Photo c/o WPT)

For all of his successes in online poker, Daniel Cates had very few notable live results prior to his trip down to South Africa. After a dominant day of poker Saturday in Johannesburg, Cates is now the proud owner of an Alpha8 title.

Cates earned $500,000 and his first major title at Alpha8 Johannesburg, defeating South African Kinesh Pather and Jason Mercier to cap it all off. He ended Day 1 of the tournament with the chiplead and never looked back on Day 2.

Three players were eliminated on Day 1, with Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge champion Phil Ivey and $25,000 Challenge winner Max Altergott failing to advance. Antonio Esfandiari was the only player to re-enter – firing a second bullet just before the close of registration – and he was one of seven players who entered Saturday’s action with a chance at victory.

Unfortunately for Esfandiari, his Day 2 would last just two hands. Pather opened for a small raise to 6,500 in early position and Esfandiari called in the big blind. The flop was Q J 7, Esfandiari checked, Pather bet 7,500 and Esfandiari check-raised to 22,500. Pather three-bet all in, having Esfandiari covered, and Esfandiari called it off for 94,500 total with K 6.

Pather had top two-pair with Q J and even had a blocker to Esfandiari’s flush draw. The 4 on the turn left Esfandiari with a flush draw and one card to go, and the T would not cut it, sending him off in seventh place. Pather briefly passed Cates for the chiplead, one of only a handful of times he’d lose it during the final day of play.

Philipp Gruissem was right behind him, shoving his last 28,000 with A 3 only to get called by Jeff Gross and his K T. It looked good for a Gruissem double through the 7 6 3 flop and 9 turn, but the T knocked the last German in the field out in sixth.

Gruissem was attempting to win his third straight Alpha8 title, after winning back-to-back events in London and St. Kitts.

Erik Seidel had his annual success at the 2014 Aussie Millions by finishing 10th in the Main Event, third in the $100,000 Challenge and bubbling the $250,000 Challenge, but his odds weren’t great entering Day 2 in Johannesburg with just eight big blinds. Seidel fought for a while, but eventually succumbed as his 7 7 couldn’t measure up to Cates’ T T, eliminating the poker legend in fifth.

The bubble came into play with the last three spots getting paid, and four-handed play was predictably much longer than the 15 hands it took to eliminate the first three players. Cates pulled well ahead during this period, with all three of his opponents dropping below 20 big blinds as they tried to avoid the $200,000 bubble.

Gross would eventually be the unlucky one, three-betting all in with A 8 only to run into Cates’ 8 8. The Q T 5 J 3 runout would do little to help Gross’ cause, and he’d be forced to leave South Africa empty-handed in fourth place.

Just after the final three players returned from dinner, the tournament fates of Pather and Mercier would be decided. Pather open-shoved with K Q and Mercier woke up with A A in the big blind, giving him a great chance to eliminate Pather and go head to head with Cates for the title. The board would be unkind to Mercier though, as the T 9 5 7 2 would give Pather a flush and leave Mercier with less than four big blinds.

Mercier got one double through Cates and got another all in through, but his run-in with pocket aces would not end as well as Pather’s did. Reduced to five big blinds, Mercier went all in from the small blind and Cates called with A A. Mercier picked up four outs on the 9 6 3 flop, but the Q and K would not get him there, leaving him to settle for third-best.

Cates started heads-up play with a lead of four-to-one and then put Pather away, rattling off 12 hands in a row to start the match and 13 out of 14 heads-up hands overall. Pather got all in for just over six blinds with K J and had a good chance against Cates’ J T, but the T 8 7 flop flipped things around. The J and T made Cates a full house and brought the tournament to a close.

In addition to the $500,000 first place prize and Alpha8 trophy, Cates received a special edition version of gold Monster 24K headphones.

The next event on the Alpha8 schedule has yet to be announced, but the World Poker Tour will return to action one week from Saturday in Niagara Falls, Canada for the Fallsview Poker Classic.

2014 World Poker Tour Alpha8 Johannesburg – Final Results

  1. Daniel Cates – $500,000
  2. Kinesh Pather – $275,000
  3. Jason Mercier – $200,000
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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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