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A Year in the Life of the WSOP Champion
It’s less than a month away from the start of the 2010 World Series of Poker and the scene of Joe Cada’s biggest poker "crime."
For those who've slept, or perhaps spent that past six months on a desert island, the Team PokerStars Pro stole the biggest title in poker from 6,000+ poker rivals this past November, winning $8.5 million on the way to becoming the youngest Main Event winner in WSOP history.
Now, after a whirlwind year that saw him deal with the burden of fame perhaps more than he played poker, a 22-year-old Cada is looking forward to playing a few more tournaments in the lead up to defending his title at the 2010 Main Event.
"I think I just want to play my best poker really, and stay focused," he said. "It's a long time out in Nevada."
For starters, the World Champion says he'll play more Omaha events this year than last. Plus, the one-time online heads-up No-Limit Hold'em specialist says he may even enter a few mixed game events.
"I'm not really super satisfied with how I play mixed games yet," he said. "It's something I need to put more hands in at. But you can get a lot of practice in online poker - thousands of hands a day. So I'm not ruling it out for this year."
Obviously, Cada is looking forward to the opportunity to defend his title in Las Vegas, but the Michigan native finds himself on the other side of the Atlantic in Monte Carlo this week, playing for the glory of a European Poker Tour title in the PokerStars EPT Grand Final.
Having had the experience playing in a few EPT events this year, the American has had some experience playing against Europeans and is careful not to stereotype any opponent.
"Some Europeans play differently," he explained. "You may have one tight Italian and you may have one very tough Italian. I guess it's your job as a player at the table to class everyone as what type of player they are.
"The majority of Swedes may be more aggressive, but you just can't say all of them are. Just like you can't say all Italians are going to play the same. There are so many great poker players: Younger, older, different nationalities and different styles. I guess you just hope to match up good against the line up you get."
Travelling to events across the globe has been a big part of Cada's reign as the World Champion, as has dealing with a new found fame.
Of both, he says there are good and bad sides.
"It's different to say the least," he said. "There's been a lot more travelling than I did before and fame and being recognized, especially around the poker world.
"There are pros and there are cons of it all. It's not like I was excited to win the Main Event because it was going to make me famous. It just kind of comes with the territory. I'm not really mad about it, or really happy about it, it just kinds of comes with it.
"Everything I do is looked at under a magnifying glass now, which is a bit of a problem. And a lot of people feel the need to criticize me for no reason now. But it's not a bad thing. People see the final table and judge on one airing how you play poker. But regardless, I'm grateful for the situation I'm in."
Despite the ups and downs, Cada seems focused on another successful World Series, a deep run in Monaco and perhaps even playing more EPT events next season.
"Hopefully I'll play more EPT's next season," he said. "I'm going to try to. Balancing everything is hard right now. Just balancing my life in general is tough right now."
- With files from Dirk Oetzmann