21-year-old Joe Cada became the youngest ever champion at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Monday night after defeating 45-year-old logger Darvin Moon in a heads-up match that lasted nearly 90 hands. The Shelby Township, Michigan native overcame several obstacles during the final table to claim victory and receive the top prize of $8.55 million. Cada’s title comes one year after a then-22-year old Peter Eastgate supplanted Phil Hellmuth as the youngest champion in the history of the event.
Heads-up play between Cada and Moon lasted 2 hours and 21 minutes as the two battled back and forth while exchanging the lead multiple times. Cada began the day as the perennial favorite but Moon’s aggression landed him a sizable chip lead 90 minutes into the match. It also got him into some later trouble in what turned out to be the most significant pot of the tournament. On a 10c-9h-5d-10d board, Cada led out for 3 million and Moon pushed all in for Cada´s remaining 50 million. After a few minutes of thought, Cada made a courageous call with Jh-9d which trumped Moon´s 8s-7s. Cada dodged catastrophe as the 3h hit the river, giving him a lead he would never again relinquish.
On the final hand, Cada raised on the button to 3 million and Moon re-raised to 8 million. Cada double-checked his cards before announcing all-in and Moon quickly made the call. Cada´s pocket nines held a slight advantage over Moon´s Qd-Jd. The board ran out 8c-7s-2c-Kh-7c and Cada´s pair of nines held up, crowning him the 2009 World Series of Poker champion.
Cada was presented with bracelet and made sure to thank his family and friends who cheered him on during the two long days at the Rio. “They meant everything to me”, Cada said to the media afterward. “They cheered me on when I was very low on chips. Momentum is a big thing in poker. A lot of these people took off of school and work and came out here, just to support me and I am so grateful.”
Cada avoided elimination several times during the final table, which lasted a WSOP-record 17 hours and 16 minutes. The youngster won a coinflip against Phil Ivey to stay alive early on Saturday and then lost an all-in confrontation to Jeff Schulman to leave him with just 2.7 million. He worked his way back and ultimately took command of the chip lead by cracking Schulman´s pocket jacks and Antoine Saout´s pocket queens with underpairs. Cada entered heads-up play with 136 million chips to Moon´s 59 million.
“I was down so many times in this tournament, that I did not worry (when I lost the chip lead heads-up)”, Cada said. “I thought about when I was lower in this tournament and just pretended that is was a new match on each hand.”
Moon collected 5.2 million as the runner-up. It was his first ever cash at the WSOP, and when asked what he will take away from the WSOP experience, he replied, “A lot of memories, for sure. It has helped me to play poker a lot better now.”

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