Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine


Poker Training

Newsletter and Magazine

Sign Up

Find Your Local

Card Room


Hand History Time Capsule: Joe Cada

Joe Cada Employs a Survival Strategy and Some Good Luck to Become the Youngest World Series of Poker Champion of All Time

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Aug 10, 2011


There were 6,494 players who entered the $10,000 World Series of Poker main event in 2009. The prize pool topped $61 million, and the champion would walk away with $8,546,435. The players in the November Nine that year gave the poker world quite the final table to look forward to that autumn.

Phil Ivey had made the final nine, as had Card Player COO Jeff Shulman and London-based professional James Akenhead. The anticipation for the final table increased thanks to the WSOP Europe main event, which featured two November Nine finalists in Akenhead and Frenchman Antoine Saout. What’s more, Barry Shulman — November Niner Jeff Shulman’s father and Card Player publisher — won the WSOP Europe main event that October, which further increased the buzz surrounding his son. Few eyes were focused on Joe Cada, the youngest player at the table, who entered the final table in fifth chip-position with 13,215,000.

Cada Doubles Up for His Tournament Life Four Times

Play was cautious after the long layoff, and it took more than four hours before the first elimination was made. Akenhead matched his finish at the WSOP Europe main event and busted in ninth place. Kevin Schaffel then saw his pocket aces busted by the pocket kings of Eric Buchman, who made quads and sent Schaffel home in eighth place. No one else fell during the next two hours, but Joe Cada did see his stack fall to 2 million when Shulman doubled up through him with A-K dominating Cada’s A-J.

Cada started his comeback when Buchman moved all in from the small blind with 5Club Suit 4Club Suit and Cada called with JClub Suit 4Diamond Suit. The board came 9Diamond Suit 6Heart Suit 4Heart Suit 10Spade Suit 7Diamond Suit, and Cada doubled up to a still very short 4.8 million. The second double-up came when Ivey raised to 1.25 million and Cada moved all in for 5.8 million. Ivey tanked for a bit before finally calling with ASpade Suit 8Club Suit, and Cada showed pocket fours. The board came 10Heart Suit 4Heart Suit 2Diamond Suit 9Club Suit 7Heart Suit, and Cada doubled up to about 12.5 million. Ivey was left with 10 million.

Shortly after returning from dinner, Ivey moved all in with A-K, and Darvin Moon called him down with A-Q. Just like Chino Rheem did the year before him, Ivey busted in seventh place when his opponent came from behind and found a queen on the board to bust him. Moon also came from behind to eliminate Steven Begleiter in sixth place. Begleiter was all in with pocket queens preflop against the A-Q of his opponent, but Moon hit an ace on the river, and the final table shrank to five.

Cada continued his comeback when his pocket threes made a set to defeat the pocket jacks of Shulman, who never recovered from the bad beat and fell in fifth place. In that hand, Shulman raised to 1.75 million preflop from under the gun, and Cada reraised all in for 10.8 million from the small blind. Shulman called holding JClub Suit JDiamond Suit, and Cada would need help to survive with 3Club Suit 3Heart Suit. The board came 8Heart Suit 4Heart Suit 3Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit QHeart Suit, and Cada doubled up on the hand to 22.575 million.

Cada had doubled up three times to help him survive through the very long stretch of play that took the final table down to the final four players. He then doubled up a fourth time against Moon to become a true contender for the world title, with enough chips to his name to start making some real moves. The fourth faceoff saw Moon raise to 2 million preflop and Cada reraise to 5.6 million from the big blind. Moon then reraised all in for 61.725 million, and Cada made the all-in call for 22.275 million. Cada flipped over ADiamond Suit AHeart Suit, and Moon showed down KSpade Suit 9Club Suit. The board ran out 9Heart Suit 6Spade Suit 3Spade Suit 4Heart Suit 4Club Suit, and Cada doubled up to 45.225 million. Moon dropped to 39.45 million after the hand.

Buchman and Saout then tangled in a huge hand in which the A-K of Saout held up against the A-Q of Buchman. That hand determined that Buchman would fall in fourth place, and Saout would survive longer to book a third-place finish.

Cada Gets Lucky Again to Take Out Saout in Third Place

Now that Cada had a lot of chips to his name, he was ready for the next major confrontation that came his way — this time against Saout. Cada raised to 2.55 million from the small blind, and Saout reraised to 7.3 million from the big blind. Cada reraised all in, and Saout made the call, putting Cada’s tournament life at risk yet again. Cada held 2Club Suit 2Spade Suit, and Saout revealed QHeart Suit QSpade Suit. The board rolled out 9Spade Suit 7Spade Suit 2Diamond Suit 3Heart Suit 6Spade Suit, and Cada doubled up on the hand and grew his stack to 78.6 million to become the new chip leader. Saout was knocked down to 41.425 million.

Cada now held the upper hand against Saout, so their next confrontation brought an end to the Frenchman’s tournament. Cada opened the pot for 2.5 million, and Saout reraised all in. Cada made the call and he flipped over ADiamond Suit KSpade Suit. Saout showed down 8Spade Suit 8Heart Suit, and the board came 5Heart Suit 5Club Suit 4Spade Suit 10Diamond Suit KClub Suit. Cada hit a king on the river to keep his good run of cards going strong. Saout was eliminated in third place, and Cada grew his stack to 136,925,000 for heads-up play against Moon, who held 58,850,000.

Cada Falls Early, But Then Stages Another Comeback in the Heads-Up Final
Moon pulled close to even after winning the first big hand contested between the two during the final match, and after a few more pots went his way, Moon held the upper hand with 122 million. He had increased his chip advantage to three times that of his opponent before Cada started another comeback. Cada took back the lead when his J-9 won a nice pot on a 10-9-5-10-3 board after Moon missed an open-ended straight draw with 8-7. That put Cada back up to 108 million, and Moon was down to 86.5 million.
Just a few hands later, the final hand saw Cada raise to 3 million on the button and Moon reraise to 8 million. Cada moved all in, and Moon instantly called for his last 67 million with QDiamond Suit JDiamond Suit. Cada showed 9Club Suit 9Diamond Suit, and they were off to the races. The board ran out 8Club Suit 7Spade Suit 2Club Suit KHeart Suit 7Club Suit, and Moon was eliminated in second place. Cada set a new record as the youngest main-event winner in history.

How the Hand Histories Look Now

The 2009 main-event final table proved quite possibly more than any other final in the event’s history the old adage that you need to get lucky to win a poker tournament. Multiple players came from behind to win huge hands when they needed to double up and survive. In the final hand, Cada held the lead from start to finish, but he had received some help to get to that hand in the first place.

So, did Cada get lucky, or did he have the heart to persevere and wait for the right spot to get his money in when other players might have just given up and been happy with the $1 million-plus they were to be awarded as a member of the November Nine? The answers to these questions are for you to decide. However, one thing is for sure, Cada’s decisions at the final table made him $8,546,435 richer, and they also crowned him as the youngest world champion ever. He also proved that tournament poker is always a game of survival at its heart. ♠