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Cada vs. Moon: The Main Event goes heads up
It took 17 hours, setting the record for the longest final table in WSOP Main Event history with the heads-up match still to come, but the 2009 Main Event played down to its final two players early Sunday morning.
And when play reconvenes at 10 p.m. PT Monday, it will be 21-year-old online poker pro Joe Cada looking to become the Main Event's youngest champion versus Maryland logger Darvin Moon, with an opportunity to shock the poker world to its core.
After a four month delay, the Main Event final table started slowly, but it wasn't long before a crowd of thousands in attendance at the Rio's Penn & Teller Theatre in Las Vegas were treated to a plethora of action.
Although he came in short, things appeared to be looking up for James Akenhead, when he tripled up, sucking out with king-queen against Eric Buchman's ace-king on a miraculous river card.
However, he was cooled out of those chips doubling up short stack Kevin Schaffel with kings against aces soon after.
A few hands later, he got it in with threes against Schaffel's nines and went out ninth.
"I feel like I played my best; I didn't make any mistakes," he said. "Obviously I'm very disappointed, but I went in as the short stack and I had to get it in and gamble."
Soon after, Schaffel though he had found some more good fortune, getting it in with aces again - this time against Buchman's kings.
"(When you see you have aces over kings) you think this is your time," said Schaffel. "It had just happened three or four hands earlier, so you think this might be it. This might be my day."
And then a king appeared in the window.
"I wanted to throw up," joked Schaffel. "Good thing I didn't eat a big breakfast."
A forth king came on the turn and suddenly Schaffel was out eighth.
Start-of-day leader Darvin Moon then gifted Steven Begleiter almost 18 million chips, folding to his shove on a four-high flop with two spades for just six million more and handing Buchman the chip lead.
The players went for a two-hour dinner break and returned to see Cada fall into a very short stacked position after doubling up Shulman.
Antoine Saout then moved into the lead when he doubled through Begleiter getting it in with two overs and flush draw against Begleiter's second pair and finding his flush on the turn.
Cada then doubled through Buchman to get some breathing room before winning a huge coin flip against Phil Ivey to leave Ivey as the short stack.
Soon after, Ivey open-shoved from under the gun with ace-king and Moon made the call with a dominated ace-queen only to flop a queen and send the consensus best player on the planet out seventh.
"I lost that pot (to Cada) and then I just got grinded down," Ivey said. "I held off and stayed even for a little bit and then I got it in with ace-king and lost it. There was not really much I could do."
Overall, the Team Full Tilt Pro said he was satisfied with the way he played.
"It is definitely just about winning, so it's disappointing I did not win," Ivey said. "But I am happy with the way I played. I think I made pretty good decisions with the amount of chips that I had. And, I think I gave myself as much possibility of winning it as I could."
In the end, Ivey said he was amazed at the energy coming from the thousands of poker fans that filled the Rio's Penn & Teller Theatre.
"It was an amazing experience," he said. "Poker has come so far. I mean, when I first started playing I would tell people I play poker for a living and they would look at me like I was crazy. So, to see this; it's really mind-boggling."
Left with a mid-sized stack after doubling up Saout, Begleiter was the next player at risk when he called all in with pocket queens facing a massive over-shove from Moon.
He was well ahead of Moon's ace-queen, but an ace on the river sent him home sixth.
"I'm a little numb obviously," said Begleiter. "I obviously would have liked to win that pot, but I have a smile on my face. What else can I do? I got my money in really good and I was one card away from being right back in the thick of it."
Soon after, Cada doubled through Shulman in a massive hand, flopping a set of threes against Shulman's jacks to leave the CardPlayer editor considerably short stacked.
Cada then doubled up again when Moon inexplicably ran king-nine into his aces before play tightened up.
After more than an hour without much action, Shulman pushed all in with sevens and got looked up by Saout holding ace-nine.
The Frenchman hit a nine and faded a gutshot redraw to send Shulman out fifth.
"I played pretty well; tight," said Shulman. "I play differently than most people, but I don't regret anything I did.
"I still won like a million or two million or so. How can you not be pleased with it?"
Four handed, Buchman inched his way into the chip lead, but dumped most of it in a huge hand with Saout, running ace-queen into Saout's ace-king.
Suddenly, the Frenchman found himself with close to 90 million in chips and control over the table while Buchman was left short stacked.
Buchman doubled up once through Moon to stay alive, but was drawn out on the very next hand with ace-five against Moon's king-jack to bust fourth.
"I thought I played well," Buchman said. "The big hand was ace-queen versus ace-king and I don't know, four handed, I didn't think there was really anything I could do about that. Antoine was reraising me a lot all day and I thought it was the right hand to push, and whatever, it didn't work out. I had a good shot that last hand, if I doubled through Moon I would have had like 45 million, but that didn't work out either.
"I'm disappointed, but it's OK. There's only going to be one winner."
After a lengthy delay, Cada returned to ship it with deuces facing a Saout reraise and the Frenchman made the call with queens.
It appeared the heads-up match was as good as set, until Cada spiked a miracle deuce to double up.
With Cada suddenly in the chip leader's chair, he got in a classic race holding ace-king over Saout's eights with the Frenchman's tournament life hanging in the balance.
It took until the river, but a king came down just before 6 a.m. PT, busting Saout third and setting up the heads-up match between Cada and Moon.
Play will resume at 10 p.m. Monday with an $8.5 million first place prize up for grabs and Cada holding a 2:5:1 chip lead over Moon.
To catch all the action Monday and see a full recap of the play down to heads-up, click through to PokerListings 2009 Main Event Live Coverage.