A 21-year-old college drop-out won the World Series of Poker early on Tuesday, completing the biggest comeback in the tournament’s history to earn an $US8.5 million ($A9.13 million) jackpot.Joe Cada, the youngest champion in the 40-year history of the game’s richest and most prestigious event, won with a pair of nines after about 90 hands head-to-head against second-place finisher Darvin Moon.Moon had a queen and jack, and none of the other cards drawn in the Texas Hold Em hand improved it.
“I’d like to thank all my fans and my friends,” an emotional Cada told a raucous theatre full of supporters in bright-yellow T-shirts bearing his name. Later he told reporters: “It’s really surreal right now.”Cada squandered a huge lead at the start of play late on Monday against 46-year-old Moon before barrelling back in a finale of constant betting in which he moved strongly ahead for a time.It was played before an audience of more than 1500 people at the Rio Hotel-Casino at a table stacked with bricks of cash. A diamond-encrusted championship bracelet gleamed on the side of the table.Cada’s triumph was particularly stunning because he was down to just two million chips out of 194.8 million on Saturday but came back to finish as the chip leader.
“He’s another bright young voice, he’s very good and he’ll be a new light on the scene for some time”
Moon earned $US5.1 million for his second-place finish. The lumberjack eschewed the spotlight and had never been on a jet until he won entry to the World Series by winning a tournament at a local casino that cost him $US130 to enter.The top two outlasted a field of 6494 who played down to nine finalists in July and then survived a 17-hour marathon session that ended on Sunday morning when they knocked out Frenchman Antoine Saout for third place at $US3.5 million.Cada is from recession-hit Detroit, Michigan, the son of an out-of-work auto parts design engineer.His mother, Ann, is a blackjack dealer at a Detroit casino who tried to dissuade her son from gambling when he left college to focus on his online play.”When he started doing so well, I said go live your dream,” she said. “He can always go back to school if he wants but how many people do what they love?”