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World Series of Poker: Sit-Down With WSOP Champion Joe Cada, Part 1

Joe Cada

If you haven't heard by now, you're living under a rock. Joe Cada, a PokerStars-sponsored pro, is the newest World Series of Poker Main Event champion. PokerNews caught up with the new champ at the Palazzo suites inside the Rio to talk about his thoughts during the final table and much more.

Talk a little bit about the long layover between July and November. You probably envisioned the final table thousands of times in your head; how did the real thing stack up with how you saw it happening in your mind?

I was hoping I would chip up nicely early and get a little deeper stacked. I also wanted to play most of my hands when I had position, but unfortunately that didn't happen. I was stuck with a three-bet chip stack most of the final table, and I felt like I was just hanging there for the first 10 to 12 hours, just three-betting and getting away with it. A few times, I got it in real bad and got real lucky.

Were you surprised at all about how long it took to knock out players at this final table

I was really surprised we were seven-handed for like 10 hours. I had a feeling it was going to go long, but not that long.

During your preparation for the final table, were you watching any of the ESPN footage picking up any of your opponents' tendencies?

I watched the footage, but they cut out so many hands. A lot of my thing was going in there knowing it was going to be a long day. It had been four months and I knew a lot of the players were going to adjust accordingly. Some players got coaches, some players like Phil Ivey played off his image a bit more playing a little tighter. So I adjusted to how my opponents played at the final table more than putting together a definitive final strategy for each of the players going in.

Talk about the "Phil Ivey factor." Not only do you have the pressure of playing at the WSOP final table, but you also have, arguably, the best player in the world sitting down with you trying to win the bracelet as well. Did you actively take Ivey into account and think of strategies to get around the beast, so to speak?

Not quite, he never had too many chips to work with either. His play was somewhat limited due to his chip stack. You just have to look at him as another player. I play against a lot of great players online who have a lot more tournament experience. Phil Ivey may be one of the greatest players in the world, but shorter stack play is a lot different than deeper stack play.

Let's talk about some specific hands now. Talk to us about the ace-jack hand when you ran into Jeff Shulman's ace-king that essentially crippled you.

First of all, I was opening a lot of hands at that point. Shulman, he has three-bet me a lot relatively light in the past and had gone from 20 million to 5 million in chips up to that point. Normally that would have been a very standard call, as I was getting 2 to 1 with the blinds 250K/500K, and Shulman with only about 11 big blinds. The problem for me was that if I called and lost, it would cripple me. I thought about it for a while, going through all hand combinations he would ship with, and did the math, and unfortunately it all weighed to making the call. I was not happy about it by any means, and I was hoping he wouldn't wake up with ace-queen or ace-king, and unfortunately he did.

That leads me to my next question, you mentioned Shulman three-bet you light. Was this something you picked up on from the footage or during the few days playing down to a final table?

In the footage I watched, as well as some of the hands they didn't show on television. Also, I open a lot of hands so I expect to get played back at more. Shulman is a good player who knows that. He went from 20 million to 5 million, and there is not much opportunity for him to get his stack in. If I folded that hand, I was left with about 7 million, but I went with the call and it crippled me.

Lets move forward to the big confrontation with Shulman where you three-bet shoved with pocket threes and ran into his jacks.

I still had a lot of fold equity against Shulman in that spot, and I think I had either 18 or 19 big blinds. He was folding to a lot of three-bet shoves. Looking back at the footage we saw he folded two nines to Ivey's shove early during the final table, which was pretty shocking. There is a lot of fold equity, and the only hands he'll call with are a small number of big pairs and ace-king, ace-queen. He won't always be opening those types of hands, and I had very little to work with so I thought it was a good spot to three-bet jam. Unfortunately, he woke up with a hand, and I got there. I felt really bad for Shulman because I could put myself in his shoes, and I know how tough it must be to lose like that.

There is no doubt that both you and Darvin Moon ran really well at the final table. How will you combat your doubters who are saying you just luck-boxed your way to this win?

Yea, we both ran really well and neither of us took any bad beats. I mean, they didn't show a lot of hands. I did get away with a few four-bet bluffs that I was hoping they would show. That would be pretty good for my image, if I decide to play a little tighter in the future. When you play a lot of hands, your hand range widens up. I don't like calling off a lot, but I'm not afraid to move in when there is good fold equity. Like the pocket deuces against Antoine (Saout). We're playing three-handed, I am opening like every hand and we're playing about 30-40 big blinds. I am expecting him to three-bet every so often, and I mean he thought forever about calling off with ace-king one time. Antoine, he is a tricky player. We saw him open up with jack-two off, so I was expecting him to three-bet steal every so often. I had a good hand three-handed, and he certainly is not getting 2 to 1 on a call in that spot. I expect him to fold twos, threes, fours, fives, and so on. Essentially eights is the same hand as twos. When he jammed eights against my ace-king a few hands later, it was a very similar spot. Again, he woke up with queens three-handed and I got really lucky. I'm not gonna say I didn't get lucky, because I did. That is probably the luckiest I ever got at a final table, and it just happened at the Main Event. I'm very lucky, but I was never upset with the way I played.

When you hit that deuce on the flop, you must have thought it was destiny for you to win.

(laughs) Yeah! I was just thinking how sick it was. To hit sets back to back like that, being a 4-1 dog is like 60-1. It was pretty sick.

Join us tomorrow for part two of the interview, when Joe continues discussing about the final table with us, including some of his thoughts during the crucial heads-up hands played against Darvin Moon.

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