Joe Cada

November 10, 2009 by  

By Erik Matuszewski

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) — Joe Cada became the youngest champion at the World Series of Poker’s richest event, as the 21-year-old community college dropout emerged from a field of almost 6,500 to claim the $8.55 million top prize in Las Vegas.

Cada beat out 46-year-old Darvin Moon, a self-employed logger from Maryland, in a head-to-head showdown to capture the No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em world championship. The victory comes a year after Denmark’s Peter Eastgate won the event at 22.

An all-in by Cada with a pair of nines was called by Moon, who had a queen and jack. Two sevens, an eight, a two and king were drawn, improving neither player’s hand and giving Cada the title.

Cada started playing poker online at age 16 and left Macomb Community College in Michigan to become a professional gambler. This was his first time playing in the main event, the richest of more than 50 tournaments on a circuit founded in the 1970s.

Cada avoided elimination several times during the longest final table in series history. At one point over the weekend, he was down to $2.3 million in chips — approximately one percent of the total among the nine players at the final table.

He worked his way back and came to the final showdown with $136 million in chips. Moon had $59 million.

Moon, who started playing poker just two years ago, receives $5.2 million as runner-up.

The $10,000 buy-in tournament began in July with 6,494 players. After eight days of competition, nine players advanced to the final table, which wasn’t completed until this month to allow television coverage to catch up.

The top nine finishers were guaranteed at least $1.26 million. Former Bear Stearns Co. executive Steven Begleiter placed sixth and earned $1.59 million.

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