Darvin Moon, the runner-up to Joe Cada in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, passed away Saturday from surgery complications. The beloved poker player known as just a regular guy was 56.
Moon famously came out of nowhere to go on a magical run in 2009 in the WSOP. He made the November Nine and put on quite a show at the final table. Although he lost heads-up to Cada, who would later go on to become one of the top players in the game, Moon won $5.1 million.
Not only was the payout for his sick heater massive, it was also his first ever live tournament cash. At age 46, Moon wasn’t ready to quit his job and play poker for a living or even retire. A few days after he scored that seven-figure payday, he went back to work as a self-employed logger in western Maryland.
That’s who he was, just an Average Joe who happened to win more money in one poker tournament than most people earn in their entire lifetimes. He held true to who he was and continued on his career path until the end. Moon never took up poker as more than a hobby. The Oakland, Maryland resident only tacked on another $30,000 in live tournament cashes in the 11 years following his Main Event run.
“I’ve always been poor. I can be poor after this,” Moon said in a 2010 interview. “We’ve lived on 20 to 25 thousand dollars a year for 26 years. I can now live the rest of my life comfortably. I’m [still] working, because my whole family was raised that way.”
There’s an old saying that no one remembers who finishes second. That’s not always true, as Moon’s Main Event chase is one of the most memorable moments in poker history. He reminded many players of Chris Moneymaker, another Average Joe who came out of nowhere in 2003 to win the Main Event.
Moon came just one race away from potentially winning the Main Event. In the final hand, he called off his stack with Q-J and needed to win a race against Cada’s pocket nines. The board didn’t run out favorably for him, however, and Cada was crowned world champion. But he handled the defeat with class, and instantly went over to congratulate the new poker champ.
“You played a hell of a match,” Cada told Moon afterwards. “Seriously, a hell of a match.”
Details of Moon’s passing aren’t yet known publicly. The only minor detail shared by his family is that he went in for some sort of surgery and died of complications from that surgery. Although he wasn’t a regular member of the poker community, many poker players expressed sorrow for the loss.
Todd Anderson, who created the Poker Night in America show, referred to Moon as “quite possibly the most interesting person I’ve ever known.” He shared a photo with the 2009 WSOP Main Event runner-up on Twitter.
The best person I ever met through poker is Darvin Moon. A man of integrity and honor. And quite possibly the most interesting person I’ve ever known. Truly. He and his wife Wendy became good friends. Sadly, Darvin succumbed to complications from surgery today. He’ll be missed. pic.twitter.com/oq0DmL74Jk
— Todd Anderson (@PokerNight_Todd) September 19, 2020
Greg Jennings (@ZGregJennings) wrote that Moon was the “ultimate recreational poker player.” That he was, Greg. Steve Begleiter, who finished 6th in the 2009 Main Event, also reaching the final table, spoke high praise of his former opponent.
“Very sad to hear about Darvin’s passing. We shared the final table in 2009 and through that experiences and other conversations over the years got to see the incredibly decent and high character individual he was. He’ll be missed. Condolences to Wendy and his family,” Begleiter wrote.
Featured image source: Twitter