For the second time in his relatively short career, 26-year-old Joe Cada made poker history at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino Monday night.
The youngest World Series of Poker Main Event champion ever managed to become the first player in post-Moneymaker poker boom era to win a second bracelet following a win in the Main Event by taking down the Event #32: $10,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em Championship. Not only did this Shelby, Michigan native earn the tidy sum of $670,041, he also managed to cement his status as one of the greatest young players in the game.
Once heavily scrutinized by the poker community as a boy among men who was lucky to win the Main Event, Cada has now shut the mouths of anyone who saw him as anything but a professional player on the rise with nothing left to prove.
To Be the Best You Have to Beat the Best: $10,000 Championship level events at the WSOP attract the best poker players in the world and often make for some of the toughest final tables in all of poker. The $10,000 Six-Handed Championship was no different as some of the best No-Limit Hold'em players in the world ended up in the final six.
To win the bracelet, Cada had to get past Erick Lindgren, who brought two World Poker Tour titles, two World Series of Poker bracelets, and close to $10 million in tournament earnings to the final table.
JC Tran was also there, boasting a resume that includes two World Series of Poker bracelets and two WPT titles from no less than nine World Poker Tour final table appearances. He was the Season V WPT Player of the Year and finished fifth in the 2013 WSOP Main Event for $2,106,893, pushing his total tournament earnings past the $10 million mark. For Tran it was also his second WSOP final table already this summer, having finished fourth in the $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em Mixed-Max.
Max Silver burst onto the live tournament scene across the pond in 2010 making two final table appearances in a row on the UK & Ireland Poker Tour, including a win in Dublin, Ireland. He parlayed that into a huge side event win at the European Poker Tour's London stop and managed an eighth-place finish in the WSOP Europe Main Event in 2011. He's continued to post deep runs in what seems like every UKIPT on the schedule and his third-place finish on Monday marked his third cash of the 2014 WSOP thus far.
And finally, Cada beat WSOP cashing machine and 2012 Main Event fifth-place finisher Jeremy Ausmus heads-up. Ausmus had previously won his first bracelet in a €1,500+150 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the 2013 WSOP Europe in France besting a final table that included Juha Helppi, Jason Mercier, and Jonathan Little.
Getting Over The Hump: After Cada won the 2009 Main Event he returned to the 2010 WSOP with the bright spotlight shining right in his eyes. He proceeded to brick every event he played, and it appeared there were a lot of them. He didn't record another WSOP cash until 2011 when he finished 144th in one of the many $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em events at the series and got all the way to 26th in this very same $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed Championship.
Fast forward a year later and he booked three cashes including a runner-up finish in another $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event. In 2013, Cada went on proving he was no fluke, making two final tables, booking fourth-place finishes in yet another $1,500 No-Limit event and the $1,500 Six-Handed event. But he was unable to get over the hump until now.
Rumble Young Man Rumble: At 22, Peter Eastgate became the youngest person to win the Main Event in 2008. A year later, Cada bested that, winning it some eleven months after his 21st birthday. Phil Hellmuth held the record before both of them, winning the 1989 Main Event at 24. Now 49, Hellmuth has won a record 13 WSOP bracelets and while Cada's got a long way to go to catch him, if he keeps giving himself shots at the kind of regularity he has over the past three years, there's no telling how many he'll collect over his next 23 years.
The First to Get a Second: No less than a dozen Main Event final table participants since Chris Moneymaker's historic win have found a way to win a bracelet in the years after their big score, including Ausmus. But none of those players, including Moneymaker, has managed to win a second event at the WSOP since booking a win on poker's biggest stage. Main Event Champions Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem, Jamie Gold, Jerry Yang, Eastgate, Jonathan Duhamel and Pius Heinz have yet to find themselves back in the winner's circle at the WSOP since.
And although 2012 champ Greg Merson has a second bracelet, his came in the $10,000 Six-Handed Championship prior to winning his Main Event title. 2013 champ Ryan Riess is halfway through his first chance at a second bracelet, but has yet to post a real deep run.
Great for the Game: Cada began his poker career as a college student playing online. In fact, he collected more than $500,000 in earnings online prior to his Main Event win. Once he booked his seat at the Main Event final table, he managed to secure a sponsorship with the world's largest online poker site, PokerStars.
It's a sponsorship he still holds to this day, and while hasn’t always seemed completely comfortable with it, Cada has embraced the Main Event champion's role as spokesperson for the game. Following Black Friday and what appeared to be the end of online poker in the United States, he has done countless media spots praising online poker as a game of skill that Americans should be able to play whenever and wherever they like.