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Best of Vin Narayanan

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Youth is served: Joe Cada wins the World Series of Poker Main Event

10 November 2009

LAS VEGAS -- Joe Cada beat Darvin Moon heads-up to win the World Series of Poker Main Event title early Tuesday morning. Cada won $8,547,042 for finishing first and became the youngest Main Event champ at 21 years old. 2008 Main Event champion Peter Eastgate was the previous youngest champion at 22 years old. Moon took home $5,182,92 for his second-place finish.

Cada will keep 50% of his winnings. The rest will go to Cliff "Johnny Bax" Josephy and Eric "Sheets" Haber, who bought Cada into the tournament

Moon and Cada survived a 17-hour final-table marathon Saturday night to reach heads-up play. The Main Event field started 6,494 players.

When play began at the Rio Monday night, Cada, an Internet heads-up specialist, had a decisive chip advantage, leading Darvin Moon 135,950,00-58,850,000.

joe_cada

Joe Cada is the new WSOP Main Event world champion after outlasting Darvin Moon Monday night. (photo by IMPDI for the 2009 WSOP)

But it was the logger from Maryland, not Cada, that kept applying the pressure all night.

Moon came charging out of the gate. In the very first hand of the night, Moon picked up a sizable pot when his pocket queens bested Cada's pocket nines with the board reading 3s Ks 2d Ad Kc. With Cada's chip advantage cut nearly in half, it quickly became clear that this was anybody's game.

Moon kept the pressure on, showing he was unafraid to push around big stacks of chips. And after the 11th hand of the night, he seized the chip lead.

Cada eventually found his footing, making a stand in a large pot by firing out a 35-million chip bet. Moon folded and Cada regained the chip lead. But his lead was short-lived, with Moon putting the type of relentless pressure on Cada that Cada usually puts on other opponents.

Moon's aggression took its toll on Cada's chip stack, which dipped down to around 79 million shortly after the first break of the night.

Moon didn't take his foot off the gas when he opened up the 43-million chip lead. After seeing an ace-high flop, Cada fired out a 13 million bet. Moon raised several mountains of chips, and Cada mucked his hand immediately, giving Moon 145 million in chips and a 96-million chip lead.

A big pre-flop all-in bet from Cada halted Moon's momentum for one hand, but Moon continued to bet aggressively and won 14 of the first 21 hands after the break.

With 54 million left, Cada decided to make a stand. With the board reading 10-5-9-10, Moon check raised all in. After thinking about it for a couple of minutes, Cada called and turned over 9-J for two pair. Moon turned over 7-8 for an open-ended straight draw. Cada dodged the six and jack, and regained the chip lead, 108 million to 86.5 million.

"I made a mistake there," Moon said after the match. "That was a bad play. I should have pushed all in after the flop, but I waited and I knew I made a bad play when I saw that 10."

Cada's victory blow came eight hands later, when he re-raised Moon all in before the flop. Moon briefly checked his cards before making the call and the race was on. Cada flipped over pocket nines and Moon showed the queen and jack of diamonds.

Cada raced over to his supporters and buried his head in Josephy's shoulder while the remaining cards were dealt.

The flop of 8c-2c-7s- missed both players. The king of hearts came on the turn, and the seven of clubs came on the river giving Cada two pair and the win.

"I knew where I stood," Moon said, explaining his last all-in call. "I looked at the chips and just figured that was my chance to push and then see if I could catch something. I really felt that's what I had to do at that time. I just didn't catch what I needed."

"I'm so happy right now for Joe," Josephy said as he stood on the main stage at the Penn & Teller Theater, moments after Cada prevailed. "He's a great player, but I've also learned he's a great person. He's a real even-headed kid for being so rich at 21 years old. He's not the type that's going to go out and blow this money. He's going to be around for a long, long time."

"Darvin Moon played great," Cada said after he had been presented the championship bracelet. "He really put me in some tough spots early on and I got off to a bad start. Before I knew it I was playing from behind again. But I was able to stay composed, battle back and here I am. It's an incredible feeling."

"(This) opens a lot of doors. It gives me a lot of freedom and flexibility as far as what and where I want to play from here on out."

Moon said he plans on returning to the Main Event. "I'll be back. This was quite an experience. I love poker. I'll keep playing in tournaments here and there and I'll be back for the Main Event next year for sure." Moon said he expects to play his next poker tournament in a couple of weeks.

"The next time I'll play in a poker tournament is in Louisiana when the Saints play the New England Patriots," Moon said.

Both players oozed confidence prior to the start of action.

"I'm a heads-up specialist," Cada told Casino City before the start of heads-up play. "I've been playing it for three years."

"My (aggressive) style of play comes from playing mostly heads up," Cada added.

The young poker player from Michigan was also grateful for the boisterous support he received from his friends and family.

"They took time away from school and work to support me," Cada said. "I really appreciate that. And seven more are flying out just for the heads-up match."

Moon, who spent part of the off day between the final table and heads-up action playing the $10 World Series of Poker No Limit Hold'em table game in the Rio casino, was also pleased with his game entering Monday night's action.

"Someone called me recently to offer tips on how to handle the final table," Moon said. "I told them to call me back next week." Moon went on to explain that there was no need to "confuse" his game.

"There are a lot of pros who criticized my fold (to Begleiter). Guess what? They're dead (in the tournament) and I'm alive."

Moon, a big New Orleans Saints fan who has been wearing a Saints cap throughout the tournament, received a phone call from Saints vice president Chris Benson Monday afternoon wishing him luck.

Youth is served: Joe Cada wins the World Series of Poker Main Event is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.