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Michigan’s Joe Cada Wins the 2009 WSOP Main Event

In front of a crowd of thousands who filled the Las Vegas night with chants of his name, 21-year-old Joe Cada won the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event title Monday.

Defeating 46-year-old Maryland logger Darvin Moon to become the youngest Main Event winner in history appeared to be an overwhelming moment for Cada, as tears filled his eyes when the final river card fell.

"I don't know; it still hasn't hit me," Cada said moments after the win. "I don't know what to think."

"I put a lot of time into poker. Poker has been my life for some time now. Doing this the first year out (at the WSOP) is unbelievable. I got really lucky, I ran well and I am very fortunate."

Cada Over Moon for 2009 World Championship

Cada started the heads-up match late Monday night with a better than 2:1 chip lead after a more-than-14-hour first day at the final table on Saturday.

But beating Moon was no easy task for the college student turned online poker pro from Shelby Township, Michigan.

In fact, Moon started to climb back into the match in the very first hand heads-up, dragging a 45 million chip pot with queens over nines.

Over the next hour Moon would win most of the largest pots the two played to draw even and eventually take over, building up an almost 3:1 chip lead without showing down a hand as his many supporters in the crowd grew increasingly vocal.

"I knew Darvin wanted to play some bigger pots and I wanted them smaller," Cada said. "He applied a lot of pressure and did a great job. He put me in some tough spots. He's definitely a hard player to get a read or a line on. He did a great job."

Darvin Moon
'He did a great job.'

Cada finally took a stand when Moon three-bet him pre-flop and he four-bet shoved for 50 million, forcing a fold to gain back some ground.

Then he doubled through Moon to take the lead back, making a massive call with second pair on the turn and two tens on the board after Moon pushed all in.

Moon had an open-ended straight draw that failed to get there and Cada was suddenly in control again.

"By me checking the flop it's obvious I don't have top pair, so he knows that," Cada said. "I kind of bet smallish, like three million, to entice a raise and there was a lot of draws out there, jack-queens, seven-eight, clubs, and I don't think he's going to ship a ten, not the way he's been playing. He doesn't just ship a big hand like that.

"In the end I thought it was the right call and I had to make it."

Joey! Joey! Joey!

A few hands later, the two got into a pre-flop raising war that saw Cada push in with nines and Moon make the call for his tournament life with Q♦ J♦.

The flop came 8♣ 7♠ 2♣ as chants of "Joey" filled the Rio's Penn & Teller Theater.

The turn brought the K♥ and after the river came the 7♣, the 2009 WSOP Main Event title and $8.5 million first-place prize was Cada's.

Cada's supporters, the loudest group in the room right from the outset of the final nine, roared in approval as he had become the 2009 Main Event champion and Moon was forced to settle for the $5.1 million reserved for second.

Joseph Cada
The champ at work.

"They meant everything to me," Cada said of the crowd of friends and family there to cheer him on.

"They cheered me on when I had no chips. I had two million and they were standing out of their chairs. I got down to 40 million here and I heard them go crazy and that helped me get back in this.

"Momentum is a big thing in poker."

Cada, who said he was put in the tournament by famed online backers Cliff Josephy and Eric Haber in a fifty-fifty deal, said he has no remorse about having to share his winnings.

"I have no regrets," he said. "I knew what I could win when I came in to the tournament and I am very happy they put me in it."

Now comes a year under poker's brightest spotlight.

But the mature-beyond-his-years Cada appears more than prepared for it.

"I definitely plan on playing all the big tournaments, travelling and playing cash games on the side," he said. "I'll definitely embrace it. I want to see poker grow."

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2011-10-20 15:39:10

great win for cada but was kinda hoping moon would get the win.

2009-11-26 00:34:00

Well done and congrats to the final 9, but ..

I cannot believe the amount of all in over bet shoves, normally with a dominated Ace or pair! Granted we didn’t see all the final table hands so you never know how the game has fully played out; but to get someone off a hand, like Buchman, re-raising 44 mill with AQ is ridiculous, especially with being in a good position to have a decent shot at it with some of those stacks. What are you going to get called with that isn’t beating you?

But then I haven’t got through a field of 6500, players so my opinion can’t count for much. No one seemed to want to see a flop and try and out play each other but just be overly aggressive.

Forget the suck outs thats gona happen all the time; but yeah, over playing those small pairs seemed to happen a tad too often!

Does anyone know how long the final table played out for, 14 hours before heads up right?

2009-11-15 15:11:00

Well, i was wrong! Mind you, Cada had to hit two sets to do it. I think it’s unfair to label him a luckbox, he played great poker to get to the final table, but maybe got a bit overwhelmed and didn’t play very well at the final table itself.

Saout deserved to win. His play reminded me of one of my tricks, if you are playing tight and suddenly switch to loose even the best players in the world will have trouble adjusting for a while. Saout got his big stack reasonably quickly and put himself in a great position to win, he just didn’t get the luck. I had to root for a non american, naturally!

I’m glad Moon didn’t win, great guy but made some horrific plays at the final table that belonged in play money games to be honest.

2009-11-15 12:36:00

I’m not defending Cada’s play at the final table, because he definitely lucked out.

However, he had to play pretty well to at least get to that point. You can’t go through 6,000 people over 8 days and not make some good plays.

curtis seeley
2009-11-15 05:08:00

lets be serious joe cada played pretty much terrbily at the final table. his money was in real bad twice and flopped sets. it was pretty much a joke. he made bad reads and tried to bully the tightest players at the table off raises which is a brutal strategy. he did not deserve to win at all.. he did make one nice lay down with 10 10 agaisnt phil who had kk.

2009-11-15 03:49:00

Hmmmm….all these posters…and not one of them made it to the final table. Sounds like a lot of jealous people.

2009-11-14 04:01:00

My god, Ivey mustve been thinkin “what does it take to see a flop that isnt all in.” These jokers need to be taught some restraint. The main event should be an exhibition of skill and a good advert for the game, but even the commentary lost faith by the end of it. It seems any talentless fool with 10k lying about in their cabin (Moon) can go all the way. What a joke…

2009-11-14 01:41:00

Being an experienced poker player, yes, this was the most painful WSOP FT to watch. The line up of players was very interesting and compelling. I think it was a great mix, but if anything was to blame, it was the cards. Almost every hand that was won was either a 2 or 3 outer. I am sure that is not the way Joe invisioned winning, but congrats.

Joe, when you win something like this, its not just those final hands that won you the bracelet, but the hours, days, weeks, months, and years that you have spent grinding away. That is what put you in that spot. I think you got there very early, considering that there are players that have played 20 or more WSOP’s and haven’t hit the final table, but you did it. Hats off to you.

Then again, there is another huge winner in this that has been underscored. When I read at the end of this article that Joe was backed by none other than Cliff Josephy, otherwise known as “johnnybax” online, it all made sense. For you that don’t know Cliff, he is the online equivelant to Doyle Brunson. He is a lethal combo of luck and skill. If you watch Bax play you can tell when he is going to take first even if there is still 100 players left. He runs that good. There is an online term when you take a wicked beat… you have been Baxed.

After reading this article and watching the FT of WSOP 2009, I would have to say you all have been Baxed!!

Congrats again to Joe, Cliff, and Eric

2009-11-13 00:50:00

Cada was 5 BB remaining. He tripled up, then double up on a race against Ivey, doubled up 44 against JJ, doubled up witt AA, doubled up 22 againt QQ.. Odds of surviving all these all-in are close to 200 againt 1… Plus he won a 100 million race against Saout and a 150 million race againt Moon. This is poker. Someone had to do it… Two nice guys. Especially Moon. Hope the best for both of them in their future.

2009-11-12 21:32:00

They should have a league where you have to qualify for the playoffs / finale.
And perhaps very few additional wild cards for winners of ONE satellite.
What the main event is now should become a satellite for the real main event.
The way it is now it’s way too commercialized because of the media hype that “ever1 can be a winner just start online and give us your cash”.
All the donkeys come out of their holes and pay 10k or play satellites to become “world champion”.
It’s ridiculous, I can’t think of any credible “world championchip” where every1 who has enuff cash can participate.
That method used to work before Moneymaker, before the hype and the online thing going on.
But now espn and pokerstars and all those brands just want to make money of the hype and do their share in destroying poker especially the wsop.
You hardly see a player who isn’t an advertisement on 2 legs.
And espn, wth did they edit?
Whole FT cut down to 2.25 hours?
Two hands before the last they showed both players about 50% of chips, next hand you see cada only has like 30% left…
and it was like this the whole time.
And why can’t those guys get more than 2 tables with hole cams?
Before the FT they kept showing situations where you didn’t even know what the hands were bc there was no showdown…
Wsop has become like the Oscars, just rush rush rush, so you have more time to show a lot of commercials.
And trying to get some no-name to the public to win, so every1 thinks “i just have to play poker online and i can live the American dream and become rich and famous”.
And yes, besides all that, the FT was just disgusting.
Poker may be a mix of skill and luck.
But the more aggro donkey players you get, the less skill and the more luck is involved: Because one in the mass of newbs will eventually just suck out on the few good players, who make great moves, great calls, gread reads.
Players like Shulman, Ivey, Hellmuth, Matusow, Negreanu AND Saout…
Cada is the personification of that donkey, say what you want, the way he played his pairs was just plain stupid, he had no reads whatsoever, he was just generally playing aggressively and hoping to have a lot of fold equity or to get lucky in case he’d get a call.
That’s what ABC Poker is today.
Once the majority plays like that the hype will be over.
To me Saout was the best player at the FT.
Saout played very solid, was aggressive when the situation was adequate, had good reads, and his opponents never knew what they were up against when they were in a hand with him.
Who at the FT with such a big pot would make the lie down he made with Q10=top pair on the flop, when Buchman moved all in with his perfectly hidden AA.
Cada would’ve instantly called.
IMHO time will show Cada is not a notably player.
I could apparently be wrong, and now that he has a huge bankroll, he can make a lotta attempts.
But still I dont think we will ever see him close to the main event FT ever.
By the footage we saw he won many coin flips, way-behind situations…it would be a mathematical miracle if he ever could repeat that.
And that’s the crucial point, he didn’t get lucky once, it’s understood you cant win the main event without ever getting lucky.
But he got lucky time after time after time especially since the hand vs Ivey.
And it wasn’t like he had to make hard decisions on the flop, it was always a stupid move by him pf, and he sucked out, or at least didn’t lose the coin flip.
If whenever he was all in he would have thrown a coin instead of playing his hand he would have had a greater chance to win the main event!
That’s not even a joke, it’s true!

2009-11-12 10:30:00

Cada and Moon both got lucky but Cada just sucked out so many times, sure luck is a factor but all the hands he went all in with its just ridiculous. Cada made the wrong move at the right time over and over. Granted at the end of any tourney things are going to get a bit crazy but it just seemed like uneventfull donkey action watching as the under dog sucks out over and over. Time will be the ultimate test and i don’t think these players will be around too much in the future. I think it should have been either Sauot, Ivey, Moon, or Begleigter heads up. I want a rematch with the same nine players and see what happens i would bet my left testicle that Cada would go down.

stu fan
2009-11-12 06:59:00

Cada is not “The Kid” Stu Unguar was and always will have the nickname “The Kid”.

2009-11-12 05:50:00

I have never seen so many suckouts by someone (other then J Gold) Cada is a luckbucket. The crap he went allin with was a joke.

2009-11-12 03:46:00

PS didnt know Chris Fergison got it all in with 66 against Jeff Shulmans 77 and hit a 2 outer to cripple jeff. How come these haters dont call him a lucky donkey?Keep flipping burgers whiners.

2009-11-12 03:42:00

Awsome final table.Super entertaining. All the haters can get bent. If you have never gotten it all in with kings against aces and cracked them, then you do not play poker. It is a mistake to fold KK pre flop against 1 player.So he got lucky,doesnt make him a donkey. You haters have probably never made a final table in a 60 dollar touney never mind playing for 8.5 million. Gotta be more pressure than anyone knows. Congrats to all at the final table,and Joe Cada for winning.

2009-11-12 03:17:00

@sheila: Darwin Moon plays poker the way it should be played?!? Tongue in cheek? You wish everyone played like that so they would give you their chips? Not serious right?

2009-11-11 22:28:00

Congrats Joe! Congrats Darwin! I was actually rooting for Schullman & Moon to go heads up, but –too many suck outs changed all of that.
Darwin Moon plays poker the way poker should be played–and I’m sure when he returns to Maryland $5 million wealthier, and even if he never returns to Vegas, he will invest wisely and still have many millions in the bank ten years from now!
Quite an entertaining final table, but still would have preferred to see my two picks heads up–they know how to play poker!

2009-11-11 19:29:00

WTH, the final table sucked! Cut the crap, everyone knows the game is mixture of luck and skill, but here it was almost only luck! Just look at how many times the one with huge advantage lost the hand… I don’t respect the first two, they were one of the worst players in final 9, but they got unbelievably lucky, especially the champion. Let’s see where he’ll get in future…
It was crazy final table, f**k probability and odds… :))

2009-11-11 18:43:00

i wonder how many times cada shoved pre with small pairs through the tourney? he was chipped up from day one.

Saout was definatley the dark horse and his play was great on FT and should be credited! until his QQ got cracked maybe tilted afterwards putting in 40bb pre with 88 against cadas AK

gota win flips to win tourneys and cada won the flips that counted

ok definately was painfull watching cada 2outing schulman and saout being 4-1 dog thats very lucky

moon played terribly getting his chips in behind alot and doubling people up. His beat he dished to ivey was brutal and uncannily identical to chinos exit lastyear.

if the best hand always won this final table result would have been VERY different i cant help but think ‘what if’..

what if begleigters QQ held against darvins AQ preflop ship

what if schulmans or saouts overpairs held against cada

what if akenheads KK didnt run into AA after he tripled up with kq (same but different)

What if schaefers AA didnt get cracked by quads

and most importanly WHAT IF IVEYS AK HELD!!!!!

2009-11-11 17:36:00

analysis of the FT has been done, i’m not going to comment.

let me just remind people that these were the final 9 of 6,000+ – some very solid poker was played by each one of them to ever get to this point.

as well, certain players realized their skill disadvantage and adjusted their play accordingly. unfortunately, that leads to many adjustments and some ugly play. don’t cry about it though – when you’re dealing with a game that is a mix of skill and luck, it’s ridiculous to expect anything else.

i will say this – i am not dismayed by where poker is going for this simple fact: POKER IS A GAME OF EVOLUTION. whatever are the common tendencies, the winning players are the ones who adjust accordingly. seriously, with EVERYONE with a slight interest in poker hearing AGGRESSION IS KEY, where else did you think the game was going to end up?

if anything, i’m excited to see where the game goes from here. and don’t forget, NLHE is not the only form of poker invented. maybe it’s time some other forms to once again surface.

2009-11-11 15:15:00

irst let me say congrats to joe for winning, at the end of the day i don’t want to be a hater.

however i have to say this final table makes me sick of poker. the state of it is an absolute donk fest. people at the main event final table just shoving deep stacks preflop – where is the skill in that? you want to make a case for poker being a skill game but everyone these days just wants to gamble.

ivey played average – should have shoved with jacks and since he didnt needs to fold the A8 against joe. he does that and he doesnt have to open shove AK, although darvin would have probably put him all in preflop with AQ because he is a donkey.

at the end of the day tournament poker is in a state of dismay and cash games aren’t far behind them anymore either. no one wants to see flops they want to flip and see what happens. it won’t be long before it will profitable to only play aces and kings like they did in the old days. can you say full circle?

D. Uouchbagge
2009-11-11 15:09:00

Stop hating on Cada – Poker is a skill game, but luck is a factor. He played skilfully and got lucky in spots – He’s the champ – Y’all better get used to it!

2009-11-11 14:41:00

I think I heard the kid say NO LUCK on the final card. You have got to be kidding me!! If not for that, I wouldn’t really pull against him. I don’t care that it is the heat of the moment or that he is only 21.

The hands they showed at the final table , Darvin only won when he got it in bad and won once (to Ivey), and that was an AQ call against Phil’s AK.

His suited KJ against Beglighter was not a good call, but still wasn’t a real underdog.

All the others where he got it in bad, he lost.

He pushed with K9 against Cada’s AA and was obviously in bad, but not as bad as Cada with 22 and 33 to overpairs. The K9 lost, the underpairs won. May the luckiest man win!

Lastly, no 21 year old should be so falsely sure of themself. Get out of your room kid and smell the fresh air. You have little man syndrome, and while they anoint Phil Ivey at every turn, you were the only one that they showed getting B-Slapped by him.

One hit wonder, how about Joe Cada. He is no Dean Hamrick.

Very unsatisfying final table.

Ray in Pxh
2009-11-11 14:39:00

Great…another hack poker player wins the main event. It was like watching an accident…couldn’t believe how often poor play was rewarded.

The Main Event final table has become a joke. Suck out kings like Cada, Yang, Gold, Moneymaker, have killed this event.

abdr ttw
2009-11-11 11:18:00


Mike Hunt
2009-11-11 10:24:00

Yes – Cada got lucky in the final nine to come from a few chips and a chair to win the title
Yes – Darvin Moon played well heads-up
But – Cada played well also, making a solid call with the nines and two tens on board to double up
And – He will be ten times the ambassador for the game that the hick from Oakland, Maryland could ever be!

edgar morrero
2009-11-11 06:11:00

For the record, Varkonyi was 117th in the 2007 main event (winning over $50,000). A better example of a one-hit wonder would be Jerry Yang.

2009-11-11 03:55:00

Cada won so now Moon can chop-chop doubt he will return next year.

2009-11-11 03:31:00

p.s. moon ran ridiculously well and lucky like ive only seen jerry yang do before during the whole main event. he knows hes not much of a talented poker player and i would put my money in that he will stay a one hit wonder simuliar to robert varkonyi

Bob Clements
2009-11-11 00:05:00

great job joe ,hope to play with you at Foxwoods,CT.A great day for poker and you.

Scott Pederson
2009-11-10 23:41:00

I thought Moon played better Heads Up, which surprises me. Like most of the tourney, Cada ran better. He sucked out more times than I can count and that is usually enough to win.

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