Hand #356: “I call,” Joe Cada says after Darvin Moon had moved all in on the turn. The board showed ten-five-nine-ten and Moon turned over seven-eight of spades for an open-ended straight draw. Cada was all in and at risk showing jack-nine for two pair, but Moon had six outs to take it down.

Like the day “Jerome” turned out to be Phil Ivey, or Mike McDermott blew his entire bankroll versus Teddy KGB, we can all remember where we were when the future of poker changed forever.

It was inside the Pen & Teller theatre on a breezy November night in 2009 when Darvin Moon won the WSOP Main Event when the six of hearts completed his straight on the river. Gone was the idea that maths-based aggression was GTO and in came a new era of power-poker as bold as the full moon. As bold… as Darvin Moon.

Having won his way to Vegas in a $130 satellite, Darvin Moon’s method of being dealt aces six times on Day 1 became a template for success after he bested the field of 6,494 players in the 2009 WSOP Main Event. Having eliminated the apple-eating Phil Ivey at the final table when his A-Q triumphed over Ivey’s A-K after a queen arrived on the flop, Moon used this momentum to beat Joe Cada heads-up.

Darvin Moon’s Impact on the Game

Moon’s victory would forge a path for poker fashionistas for years to come, New Orleans Saints hats became all the rage as hoodies were ditched in favor of the athletic polo shirt, apparel that still sells out today in the corridors of the Rio.

After Jerry Yang and Peter Eastgate did little to inspire new players, Darvin Moon became the biggest name in town, with multiple sponsors lining up to associate themselves with the rugged looks and nonchalant charm of the $8.5-million man.

Nike released a line of branded polo shirts with ‘If you win, you win, if you lose, you lose’ instead of ‘Just Do It’ to as Moon-Fever took over. In an exclusive deal with The Mirage, they renamed their poker room ‘The Moon Landing’, and most casinos started offering additional comps for patrons dressed in stonewashed jeans and sneakers.

That time Phil Ivey couldn't figure out Darvin Moon! (Photo: Getty Images)
That time Phil Ivey couldn’t figure out Darvin Moon! (Photo: Getty Images)

Now almost ten years later, Moon remains active in the logging business, and he’s currently working on a documentary about his life titled “I Only Chop Logs”. Furthermore, Moon featured in the remake of The Howling, while the classic cartoon Underdog was reimagined in the image of Darvin Moon, complete with a goatee beard and baseball cap. Few viewers noticed the change.

We all remember the great truck-stop jams of 2009 and 2010 as America’s great highways became hives of attention for autograph hunters among poker fans worldwide. Record sales of beef jerky not only pulled America out of the global recession but ended the use of cows as a major source of the world’s meat to the extent that we now all eat a lot more horse.

Everyone wanted to emulate the “Louisiana Logger”, and no group more fiercely than poker players. Most pros relinquished previously sought-after technology such as cell phones and table, choosing alternative communication devices such as the handwritten letter and smoke signals to reach their peak level of performance. Moon’s only connection with online poker seemed to be the emergence of a young and mysterious Swedish player, who attracted attention as a high stakes player under the nickname ‘Lumberjak1’.

To this day, when most players say ‘check’, they’re wearing it in the form of a lumberjack shirt. So next time you’re dealt pocket aces, or as they became known ‘The Moon Rockets’, remember the most famous mantra in poker, you’re only as good as your last log. At least Joe Cada was fortunate enough to win the 2018 WSOP Main Event, or did he?

To the Moon!

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Phil Ivey, Joe Cada, Darvin Moon, 2009 World Series of Poker