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World Series of Poker: Sit-Down With WSOP Champion Joe Cada, Part 2

Yesterday, we brought you part one of our interview with Joe Cada. In part two, PokerNews delves into the heads-up battle the new PokerStars sponsored WSOP champion waged with logger Darvin Moon and what to expect from the champ moving forward.

Watching you and Darvin heads-up was like watching a prize-fight. Were you expecting Darvin to be as aggressive as he was?

No I was not. I knew that Darvin didn't really play a lot of heads up before that, so I did not think he would be as aggressive as he was. You don't get as many hands. I thought he would call and play a lot of hands out of position and check-fold a lot, or check-call a lot. But he came in playing big ball poker, making the pots swell and making it tough for me. I wanted to play small ball and play my hands in position. He did a great job and put me in a lot of tough spots and pushed me around during the beginning of the match.

The first hand, looking back you gave up a lot of chips, but technically he could have doubled up straight away if the hand goes down differently.

I wanted to play most of my hands in position, but nines are a big hand heads up. He limped and I bumped it up and he called. The flop was pretty dry, coming king-five-deuce, and Darvin likes to slow-play a lot, and he also does not like to fold a lot, so I expected him to play back at me during heads-up play. He raised on that board, and I was expecting him to flat on that if he had a king, trying to double up on the turn. I was planning on folding to a bet on the turn but when the ace hit it changed everything. Now, if he has a king, why is he going to bet a turned ace? The ace is a scare card, so I thought the bet was a continuation bluff. What could he have on the flop that he would raise me with and then bet the ace on the turn? I thought the 10 million bet into a 27 million chip pot looked weak to me, so I called and peeled another card thinking I was good. Unfortunately, I didn't know he was actually value-betting queens. (laughs)

Going in as the chip leader heads up and being a heads-up specialist, you must have had a lot of confidence, but very quickly, Darvin seemed to take control. At any point were you getting frustrated? How did you keep your composure through that run?

I have played so many heads-up sit-n-gos its sick, so still having 40 to 50 million in chips, I was nowhere close to panicking. There was tons of room for play. It was frustrating because I was not making too many hands, and when I did opt to play back at him, he always fired back. I let him have it a few times when the flop came ace-rag-rag or something, and he led into me. The one time I played back, he came right over the top. I only three-bet twice in that whole match, and one of the times was with ace-queen, and I don't ever expect Darvin to four-bet bluff, and he four-bet putting me in a really bad spot. I laid it down, as I thought there would be better spots than getting it in with ace-queen.

Were you surprised he had ace-jack on that hand?

Well, I ended up finding out he had ace-jack before the broadcast. I mean, I think that is probably the weakest hand he four-bets with. I was fine laying it down and just trying to play a longer match with Darvin.

Talk to us about your huge double-up hand with jack-nine?

I raised to 3 million with jack-nine off suit, which was pretty standard. He called and the flop came ten-nine-five, and he likes to check-raise and play big pots, so when he checked, I elected to check behind with middle pair. The turn brought a ten and he checked again, also bringing out two clubs. I led out for 3 million into a 6 million chip pot, and he moved me in for like 55 million. That complicated things, as it was such a big bet into a small pot. I thought about all his potential hands and some of them were bluffs. I thought he was trying to blow me off the hand, as I think he would have played a ten in that spot very differently. I opted to make the call.

That must of been a huge confidence boost to make the right call and then be fortunate enough for your hand to hold. You gained the chip lead, and a few hands later won a nice pot also.

Yea, I remember winning a sizable pot. It was where I rivered two pair with nines and tens. When he folded, I saw one of his cards, which was a deuce, so I don't know if he was trying to bluff me again. The flop was ten-eight-king and he continued, and I called him and the turn was a seven. So I had middle pair, and was open-ended, which is why I stuck around and happily took it down with second pair on the river.

That leads you to the big moment, you started the night with pocket nines and ended it that way. At that point you were probably happy to get it in against Darvin in that spot.

(laughs) Yes, the way the match had played out I was more than comfortable getting it in with nines. The way he looked at the cards and called so quickly I thought he had queens at first. I thought he had a huge hand the way he acted, and I was surprised to see the queen-jack.

What was the first thought that passed through your head when you saw you faded all the outs and were the new world champion?

I don't know. It was a sick feeling in my stomach. I could not believe, especially coming back from having only one percent of the chips in play. I did not expect to run that well. It was a dream come true.

It's been noted your relationship with Sheets and Bax. How important was it for you to have a guy like Bax on the rail with you? In fact how important was the huge group of supporters to you?

I loved all the support. A lot of people took off from school and work to come out and support me. During the breaks, I made sure to only talk to Bax and my friend Tony who is a really good player. I only wanted to think and talk about poker. Every break we walked and got away — no family, no girlfriends, none of that — it was strictly business. It helped a lot, them being there. Bax gave great advice, helping me stay focused and allowed me to go over my thought process on a lot of hands. It was great.

There probably has been little time to get out and spend some of your new-found cash, but any ideas for a first reward for yourself?

I really don't know what I am going to buy yet. I was pretty well off because of poker already, so I don't really know.

What was your biggest score prior to this?

I won the 750K for about $150,000 and I also won $128,000. I probably have over $500k in tournament profit leading up to this. I usually only play tournaments on Sunday, as the rest of the week I play cash games.

It's interesting, because you clearly consider yourself a professional, and Peter Eastgate before you considered himself a professional, but there is still talk about how a pro will never win a main event again. Do you think this is a turning of the tide since there are so many people nowadays making a good living playing poker?

That's the thing. Back in the day, a few years ago, poker was a lot easier. Poker has evolved a lot more. People are learning a lot faster and there are a lot more ways to learn. There are a lot of great players out there now, so as time progresses there continues to be more good players. There are bad players too, but the main event is such a long tournament and so deep stacked that we are going to continue to see solid players winning these big field tournaments.

Obviously you are right away positioned as poker's newest and most important ambassador, what are your thoughts on this responsibility?

I'm going to do the best I can. I love poker and want to see it grow. I'll do my best to help it grow.

What does your family think of it all?

My Mom and Dad are really proud. My Mom was in tears. She was always very skeptical when I started off. She works at a casino so she sees people lose all the time, and she doesn't get the difference between playing cards and gambling. It's difficult to explain to her, but this was huge.

Being part of poker history, and now what seems like a tradition of having the WSOP champion be part of the PokerStars family, how does that feel?

My biggest goal in poker before I started playing in the WSOP was to become a poker pro with a site like PokerStars and thanks to making the final table of main event, it became possible. It took some time to get it to happen, but it finally happened and I am very proud to be a part of team PokerStars, and I look to do my best to represent them.

What are you most looking forward to moving forward?

I'm looking forward to winning another big tournament. The odds of winning these big field tournaments are very high and on the ESPN footage it looks like I got really lucky, and I want to make a name for myself. I look at this win as a stepping stone. My next tournament will be the PCA in January.

Well congratulations again Joe, we look forward to seeing you in the spotlight this next year, and hopefully for many years to come.

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