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11/11/2009 No. 77
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Wed 11 Nov 2009
Joe Cada:
The new world champion of poker

We have a new world champion of poker: 21-year-old American Joe Cada.

Many will be disappointed that Phil Ivey didn't win. This was an incredible final table line-up. Last year, the organisers' new plan of a five-month delay before the final (to maximise TV revenue while adding nothing to the prize pool) killed some of the momentum and excitement. This year felt different. With finalists including Jeff Shulman (popular and well-known editor of Card Player magazine), James Akenhead (a young British pro, for our patriotic pleasure) and Phil Ivey (believed to be the greatest tournament player in the world), there were reasons to stay excited until November.

But Shulman finished in fifth place. Akenhead was the first man out. Ivey, who seemed to play cautiously, finally put down his apple and moved all in with AK. Darvin Moon called with AQ, hit a Q and knocked him out in seventh spot.

This last coup seemed a particular shame. If the world's greatest player makes the world's biggest final, you want him to prove a point by winning, or contribute to a fairytale around the man who outplays him. You don't want him stumbling away after an absurd beat that makes the whole thing look like a lottery.

Darvin Moon, who finished second, is a woodcutter from Maryland, which sounds literally fairytale. Unfortunately, a win from him might have risked creating "the new Robert Varkonyi". Few speak respectfully, now, of the 2002 champion who made questionable plays but hit miracle cards. However romantic someone's story, we can't want this ultimate title to be taken on pure luck. Moon played powerfully heads-up, but promising professional Cada is the stronger winner. We will get to know him better now. He's no Ivey but maybe, one day, he will be.
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