Moeds: poker, parenthood & cupcakes

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Though still relatively rare, the number of married couples who play poker professionally seems to be on the rise. Not surprising, because as numbers for women who play the game continue to grow, it would make sense that couples in love would share a passion for the game.

Serious couple Doc Sands and Erika Moutinho-Sands, though not married at the time, made headlines by finishing 29th and 30th in the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event, even making an appearance on one of the featured TV tables sitting across from each other.
The newest married couple that grabbed the spotlight this summer at the World Series was Michael Moed and Angela Prada-Moed of Miami Beach. Michael is an Omaha/8 expert ranked in the top 10 on a couple of Omaha lists.

But the truly impressive story is Angela, a Colombian immigrant who moved to the United States in 2000 as a teen. She had no knowledge of poker until meeting Michael, who taught her and encouraged her to read poker books and work hard to improve. An eighth-place finish at a $500 Bellagio tournament by Angela less than six months after initially learning the game was an indication to Michael that his wife was more than just a pretty face when it came to the poker tables. He finds her rapid improvement remarkable.

“She didn’t even know what the four different suits were in the deck before we met,” he said of Angela, who now has a little more than five years’ experience of serious play. “I’ve literally never beaten her in a heads-up situation; she can read my soul.”

Angela’s first big splash at the WSOP came in 2012 when she reached the final table of the Ladies Championship and finished fourth. However, the next year pushed poker to the backburner when Angela gave birth to their first child in March, and six weeks later, they opened Sweet Times, a cupcake shop in the western Miami suburb of Kendall.

“That was suicidal,” Michael said, “but just the way it worked out.” Luckily, Angela’s special recipe learned while studying to become a pastry chef made the business an immediate success, and with the help of Angela’s mother with taking caring the growing child, the Moeds were able to survive the growing pains of the business as well.

“Angela perfected the art of making Italian buttercream, which we use in all our cupcakes,” he said. “It’s a little more time-consuming, it’s a little more expensive, but the taste and texture shows in the quality of the cupcakes. We hope to have 15-20 stores from Homestead to Palm Beach in the next few years.”

Despite juggling the chores connected with operating a fledgling business and balancing the joys and hard work of raising their son Lucas, Angela and Michael knew they were eager to return to the WSOP this summer.

“We decided over the winter that we were definitely going to play this year in Vegas if we could work it out, we just weren’t sure for how long,” Michael said.

They ended up renting a timeshare for a month and flew back and forth three times during the series. The payoff came in Event 45, a $1K event when Angela was chipleader at the end of Day 2 with 11 players left. Angela played patiently and was relatively conservative on the final day, but really wasn’t that nervous.

“She was really calm,” he said. “I’m actually the one about to have a heart attack watching her play. Angela has something in this game that can’t be taught and that is her poker instincts. When she follows those instincts, she is right 99 percent of the time.”

Angela used those instincts at the final table to pick off a couple of bluffs, then rode two big hands to reach the final three players. It took another 72 hands before Paul Sokoloff was eliminated, and after 32 more hands of intense head-to-head play, Will Givens of Centennial, Colo., prevailed, leaving a disappointed and drained Angela with a $189K check for her runner-up finish to ease the pain.

They barely have time to reflect on the best couple of weeks in their poker lives. Angela has received accolades from the poker world and Michael has received taunts on Twitter with the hashtag #shesbetterthanu. He remains philosophical about that, saying, “I’m not the best poker player in my family and I’m okay with that. I’m not the best-looking one in my family and I’m okay with that, too. I’m just happy and I’m grateful that we have a great life and we both love poker.”

However, there’s no time for poker right this second, it’s time to make the cupcakes.

— Email Dave at bigdave@pokeractionline.com.