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April 16, 2014

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November Nine:

Cada and Moon emerge as Main Event’s final two

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Sam Morris

A packed Penn and Teller Theater watches the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker Saturday, November 7, 2009 at the Rio.

Final Table Chip Count

Q&A with Jeff Shulman

WSOP Final Table

Fans cheer before the start of the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009 at the Rio in Las Vegas.  Launch slideshow »

Showing Their Cards

With the final table set, ESPN's Norman Chad and Lon McEachern weigh in on life behind the scenes of the World Series of Poker.

Joe Cada and Darvin Moon are about as different as two people could come.

Cada is a 21-year old poker professional, who was drawn to the game at a young age by nature.

“I’ve always been real good with math and logic,” Cada said. “Poker was a natural fit.”

Moon is a 45-year old logger from western Maryland. He only recently started playing poker with hometown friends.

Cada prides himself on being able to make quick, rational decisions. Moon prides himself on catching good cards.

“I don’t know nothing,” Moon said. “If I have cards, I bet. Sometimes if I don’t have them, I bet.”

Come 10 p.m. Monday night, Cada and Moon will meet on poker’s biggest stage at the Penn & Teller Theater inside the Rio. They will play heads-up for the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event championship.

They were the two who survived the longest final table in Main Event history Saturday — the duration was more than 17 hours — at the Rio. Cada, who could become the youngest Main Event champion ever, has a major advantage as he enters with 136 million chips. Moon trails with 58 million chips.

Moon pointed out another advantage for Cada.

“They say he’s some kind of specialist heads-up online,” Moon said. “I’m not online to watch or see or anything.”

In fact, Moon says he has only played poker heads-up once before.

“Always back home, we always get down to two and drop it,” Moon said. “This will be a learning experience for me. We’ll see how it goes.”

There will be no “dropping it” in this tournament. There’s too much at stake.

The winner will take home the coveted gold bracelet and $8.5 million in prize money. The second place prize is $5.1 million.

“I have to see where it goes,” Cada said. “Darvin mixed up his game a lot. He played really tight back four months ago and today he mixed it up a lot. He did a lot of unordinary things.”

That’s an understatement. Moon drew ire from some poker enthusiasts by knocking out both Phil Ivey and Steven Begleiter with an inferior starting hand Friday.

Moon caught an Ace on the river against Begleiter to make his Ace-Queen beat Beglieter’s pocket queens. Moon also cracked Ivey’s Ace-King with Ace-Queen.

Moon also made a couple notable blunders early in the round Friday to lose big pots. But Moon said he was able to shake both of them off without much worry.

“You’ve got to spend money to make money,” Moon said.

Cada had his fair share of luck Friday, too. He knocked out Antoine Saout in third place on the final hand thanks to a river card.

A King appeared on the river to pair Cada’s Ace-King against Saout’s pocket eights. Moments earlier, Cada’s pocket deuces beat Saout’s pocket queens.

“I always get these crazy ideas in my head,” Cada said. “They end up working out.”

But much more than luck got Cada to this point. He put together a monumental comeback.

At one point, Cada was short-stacked with less than $2 million chips — the lowest point any player reached without busting. But Cada survived a couple of all ins and thrived from there.

Despite playing with Cada from noon until 6 a.m., Moon said he did not have any reads on him. He doesn’t think about that stuff. Of course, Cada said he learned a lot about Moon from his performance.

Need one last major difference? Cada will be decked out in Pokerstars.net gear Monday as the online poker site is his sponsor. Moon will not accept any sponsorship deal.

“I don’t want a boss or someone telling me you need to do this, you need to do that,” Moon said. “If I was going to sign with them guys, we’d be in a lawsuit within a month because they’d want me to do something and I wouldn’t do it.”

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