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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Joe Cada

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

One of my favorite things about writing the “Where Are They Now” series is seeing what World Series of Poker Main Event winners are able to accomplish after their huge win.  In short, it varies. A select few go on to win the event multiple times.  Some go on to win multiple bracelets.  Some just fade away.  It is of course way too early to write the book on 2009 WSOP Champion Joe Cada, but already he is showing signs that he is no one hit wonder.  In the off chance that he is a one hit wonder, he was able to do something that nobody in the history of poker had done before him by becoming the youngest person ever to win the Main Event.
Joseph Cada was born November 18, 1987 in Shelby Charter Township, Michigan.  Cada was familiar with cards from a very early age, but instead of poker it was blackjack.  His mom was a blackjack dealer at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit.  However, while young Cada was familiar with the game he didn’t take to it like some of the poker players who came before him.  There was only one card game for Cada, but that wouldn’t come until a few years later when he became a teenager.  Cada’s father Jerry worked in the automobile industry, but when the recession hit towards the end of the last decade, he was laid off.  Cada took note of his father’s plight hoping to never be in a similar situation and also wishing there was something he could do for his family.

When Cada turned 16 in 2003 he discovered online poker along with his brother Jerome.  Together they deposited 25 dollars.  Over the course of a few weeks they were able to work it up to 250 dollars, which Joe wanted to deposit, as that was a lot of money to a 16 year old.  His brother Jerome talked him in to keeping it in.  They unfortunately went on a bad run and lost it all.  Joe and his brother would follow this route a few more times, running it up only to lose it, and eventually it began to lose its luster, and for a couple of years anyway, Cada turned his attention away from poker.

When Cada turned 18, he started playing poker and started college at Macomb Community College.  If the “Where Are They Now” series has taught us anything, it’s that college and poker often don’t mix well together, but at least in these stories, things usually turn out ok.  Cada started playing cash games in both Michigan and right over the border in Canada, and unlike his experiments with his brother, he thrived this time.  As predicted, his time in class became less and less as his time in a poker room became more and more.  Cada eventually realized that he was making more money at poker than he thought he would at any career he would get by going through college.  In fact, shortly after dropping out of community college, he bought his first house, with cash.

In addition to playing live cash games, he also began to explore the internet game again.  On PokerStars , the site on which he is now sponsored, he had some success playing tournaments, with his best online cash previous to 2009 being in 2008 when he won $9,100 on September 8 in a $55 tournament in which he finished second.  

Upon turning 21 he began playing a number of live events, but until the WSOP of 2009 he wasn’t able to find much, if any success.  Prior to the start of the Main Event, Cada played about ten events, cashing in two of them.  On June 5, 2009 he finished 64th in the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event, winning $6,681.  On June 16 he improved, finishing in 17th place in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em, this time winning $21,533.  In this tournament he was close to chip leader with two tables to go, but was two-outted by Bertrand “ElKy” Grospellier.  Not huge cashes, but if there was ever a sign of things to come, that was it.

Because of his friendly relationship with two of the online poker world’s best known players and stakers, Cada was able to earn a staking deal with Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy and Eric “Sheets” Haber.  Josephy and Haber were already doing well with their staking arrangements, but this one with Cada would be the most profitable by far.  The deal stood for the duo to pay all of Cada’s WSOP main event entry, for 50% percent of his profits.

Cada jumped out of the gate with a bang, finishing Day 1C of the Main Event as chip leader.  Although he realized there were still many more hours to play with many obstacles to avoid, Cada felt he could make a run at it.  Throughout the rest of the July portion of the event, Cada’s chip stack went up and down, with him having to get lucky a time or two, but by the time the “November Nine” was decided, Cada was still there, fifth in chips.

Cada’s name was recognized by some of those in the online world, but with names like Jeff Schulman and especially Phil Ivey at the table, he was largely overlooked by most.  But, Cada didn’t come without support, having 100 of his closest friends and family members in attendance, and their support would come in handy time and time again.  A few times Cada got all his chips all in with the worst of it, but each time he was able to defy the odds, and shake the rafters of the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio.

At the end it was Cada and Oakland, Maryland’s Darvin Moon vying for the top prize.  Cada held a 135 million to 58 million chip advantage, but that didn’t deter Moon in the slightest.  During the 88-hand heads up battle, the lead changed multiple times, with Cada down to 50 million chips at one point.  Finally Cada turned the tide, this time for good.  Cada pushed Moon all in with a pair of nines, and after thinking for a while Moon made the call with Q-J of diamonds, not an awful call, but not the hand the crowd expected to see.  Either way, it was a virtual race.  Cada was able to hold, winning $8,546,435 to be split between him and his ecstatic backers, while Darvin Moon returned to the woods with $5,182,601. According to an interview that Cada had with Raw Vegas TV at the WSOP AfterParty, Cada got rid of his backers once he made the final table.

Cada signed a deal with PokerStars shortly after making the final table that is believed to have paid him $1,000,000 for a year, and to pay for his accommodations and flights, along with most of his buy-ins.  It’s expected after this historic victory, in which he became the youngest person to ever win the WSOP main event at 22 years and one week, his relationship will last long after this year is up.  

Cada has approached the role of being the ambassador head-on, which is surely needed in unknown times approaching for the poker world, especially online.  Shortly after winning his bracelet, he was interviewed by Time Magazine, and one of the questions asked was in regards to the legality of online poker, Cada’s answer was met by praise in the online world: “I support the right to play poker online. Poker isn't gambling. It's a hobby, an activity, a game. It's not about luck — it's about logic, decision-making, math. We all should be able to play poker on the Web if we want to, and I believe that making it illegal strips us of our rights. This is an important issue, and hopefully we'll see it resolved soon.”

Since the WSOP victory, Cada has shown he still has the desire to play, and play well.  At the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Cada narrowly missed the final table of the $25,000 High Roller event, finishing 11th for $51,450.  As the saying goes, “only time will tell” where Cada goes from here, but so far time has been nothing but good for the young millionaire.

*Read Billy Monroe’s Blog*

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