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Moon, Cada focus on winning the WSOP Main Event
When the cards hit the air to decide the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event champion in Las Vegas tonight, only one thing will be on the minds of heads-up participants Joe Cada and Darvin Moon - winning.
"If you was playing would you be happy with second? I'll let you answer that one yourself," Moon, a 46-year-old logger from Oakland, Maryland, told reporters at a press conference a little less than nine hours before the heads-up match was set to begin Monday.
"I don't even know how much second place pays. I know its five million, but I don't know what the other part is. I don't care about that. I don't care, I don't even know. First place is eight something; I don't know the exact figure. Anybody that plays anything competitive wants first and first only. The rest doesn't matter."
For those that are interested, first place pays a massive $8,546,435 while second is a respectable $5,182,601.
But winning poker's most prestigious title has become about more than money and a gold bracelet.
With a World title comes a bright spotlight and what some believe is a responsibility to act as an ambassador for the game of poker itself.
Cada, who at 21 years old would become the youngest Main Event champion in history with a win, says he would definitely embrace that role.
"I hope I can help poker grow as much as possible," he said. "I love the game and I'll play it my whole life. I'll try to represent poker as best I can. Before I wasn't a big fan of the cameras, but I don't care. Whatever is good for poker?"
A somewhat defiant Moon, the only player in the final nine not to wear a sponsor's patch from an online poker room, said he would accept some of the responsibilities that come with winning the Main Event, but on his terms.
"I'm not used to this and I'm uncomfortable as hell and that's the way it is," he explained. "I'm going to play some more tournaments, win or lose, but I'm going to do it on my terms, when I want to be there and do my thing."
Cada, who hails from Shelby Township, Michigan, will bring a better than 2:1 chip lead with him to the heads-up match, plus a boatload of experience having played online poker since he was a teenager.
"I kind of got into it because I enjoyed the game and I enjoy the competitiveness - the decision making, the math, the logic and the psychology," he said. "It's just something I enjoy to do and when I find something I enjoy to do, I strive to be the best at it.
"Every day I play I try to get better and this will be one stepping stone in trying to become the best. I know I'm not nearly close to the best, there are hundreds better than me, but it's a good stepping stone."
When the heads up match begins tonight, Cada said he will try to use what he's learned about Moon from play in the final nine, and whatever he can pick up early on, to systematically dismantle him.
"I think I have a little better understanding of how he plays," he explained. "And it won't take too many hands for me to get a good line on how he's playing. I just need to stay focused, pay close attention to everything and how he plays every hand."
Moon, on the other hand, started playing $20 and $30 live tournaments with fields of 30 to 40 people four years ago.
He won a satellite into the Main Event at a local casino, has never played online, counts his limited experience at the tables as his only teaching tool, and is planning a more pedestrian strategy.
"My strategy is to win; that's it," he said. "I haven't read no books about poker. My strategy is all in my head."
To follow the action in the Main Event heads-up match from the call to shuffle up and deal until a champion is crowned, tune into PokerListings' 2009 Main Event Live Coverage beginning at 10 p.m. PT.