Poker and Hollywood have a long history. One could argue the meteoric rise of poker in the early 2000s was directly correlated to the release of famed poker movie Rounders in 1998. Today it is not uncommon to see Hollywood stars like Ben Affleck, James Woods, Ray Romano, Jason Alexander, and Todd Phillips playing in some of the most prestigious cash games and main events around the world.
What is less common is seeing poker professionals crossover into Hollywood. Occasionally, there is a poker movie that is produced and has input from poker pros, but there have not been many poker pros that have made the opposite jump.
A recent report from 2019 found that over 100 million people play poker around the world, with 30 million of those being in the United States. Poker has fewer barriers to entry and is played across varying degrees of competitive levels. There are vastly fewer people trying to break into the entertainment industry, but that does not mean it is any easier. Thankfully, poker has proven to be a great networking tool for poker players.
Leveraging Poker and Social Media for Hollywood
Daniel Cates, also known as his handle Jungleman12, is making the jump to Hollywood with his eyes set on producing initially and potentially more creative roles later. The good news for poker fans is that Cates is not leaving poker. With over $16 million in career winnings, it seems unlikely that Cates would walk away from the profession that has brought him so much success. Rather, he is leveraging the connections (and likely money) to get a head start in the industry, which is notoriously difficult to break into.
For Cates, this new challenge comes at a time when the world is going through vast changes and many people are starting to question what they really want to do. Cates, who has been blogging most of the year, has been documenting his journey of self-realization and also expressed his intention on becoming more active in charitable initiatives around the world
Cates explains, “I am excited to embark on a new creative journey that I am passionate about. This diversification of interests includes pursuing various projects in Hollywood. My main initial interest is to dive deep into producing and learn as much as I can.”
If anyone could take on a challenge of this size, it is Cates. Back in his early poker years, Cates could not catch a break in poker. His consistent losses made him realize he needed to get better. His strategy was simple: find the best players (regulars) and most competitive games and play there. Go straight to the top and learn from the best.
This method was described as “reverse game selection”. Typically, poker players try to find tables that have an edge. This edge could be due to many amateurs or recreational players playing or something more subtle like avoiding certain professional players. This willingness to take on challenges directly is something that has served Cates well in his professional life.
It will be interesting to see if he attacks Hollywood in the same capacity. One quick look at Cates’s Instagram shows a long list of celebrity friendships including Steve Aoki, Kevin Hart, and others. It seems as if Cates is already naturally putting himself in the best position to succeed by associating himself with top Hollywood talent.
Whatever the outcome, it will be exciting to follow Jungleman12 on his new journey and see if other professional poker players attempt the same leap.