The world has a new poker champ -- whose life story may inspire people to pursue their dreams of being a professional gambler -- but don't let the tale of Joe Cada fool you into following his career path.

Cada, 21, won the $8.55 million jackpot in the World Series of Poker, making him the youngest winner of the event.

Cada started playing poker on the Internet when he was 16, and he was so good at math that he later dropped out of community college to pursue a career as a professional gambler.

It's not a career path that Cada recommends anyone follow, although speaking to the Detroit Free Press from his high-roller, 9,000-square-foot suite at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is an odd place in which to be doling out that type of career advice.

"It definitely can be a living," Cada told Freep.com. "But it's one of those things: You have to be very careful when you decide to make it a living. More people lose than win."

Among other reasons, he says gambling can lead to the lowest of the low feelings.

"They don't really know the behind-the-scenes, because you go through big up-and-down swings," he told Freep.com. "At the beginning of poker, when I lost $40,000 or $50,000, I maybe acted differently than I normally was."

Since turning pro, Cada has invested his winnings in a savings account as a backup plan to pay for college if his poker career doesn't work out. Now that he's world champ of poker, he plans to keep playing around the world and put part of his winnings in conventional investments and some back into tournament entry fees.

Half of his World Series take-home winnings are his and the other half will go to two backers who helped pay his $10,000 entry fee. Maybe now after winning the championship and $8.55 million, Cada can negotiate a lesser cut for his investors who pay his entry fees.

When you're the champ, the odds of winning should greatly increase. And so should your cut.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net

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