POKER CHAMPION

Jerry Yang is an ethnic Hmong poker player from Temecula, California and the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event champion.

He started playing poker in 2005. An amateur player at the time, Yang entered the 2007 World Series of Poker after winning a $225 satellite at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula. Prior to the World Series, he had four cashes in local California events. At the final table, Yang went from starting eighth in chips to holding a big chip lead that he never relinquished. The process of accumulating this chip lead involved Yang knocking out seven of the eight other players at the final table.

Heads-up against Tuan Lam, he won the title with 8♣ 8♦ against Lam’s A♦ Q♦ when he hit a nine-high straight on the river after Lam had caught a queen on the flop on a board of 5♠ Q♣ 9♣ 7♦ 6♥. After a 12-hour final table, Yang had won $8,250,000 for the victory. As of 2009, the majority of his live tournament winnings, $8,263,393, have come from his win at the 2007 main event.

Jerry Yang summarized his tournament strategy: “I study my opponents very carefully, and when I sensed something, when I sensed some weakness, I took a chance. Even if I had nothing, I decided to raise, reraise, push all-in or make a call….The only way that I could win this tournament was by being aggressive from the very beginning and that’s exactly what I did. And thank God I was also able to pick up some good cards at the same time.”

Once Yang was guaranteed a share of the prize money he pledged to donate 10% percent of his winnings to three charities (the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children and the Ronald McDonald House), as well as his alma mater, Loma Linda University. Yang currently lives in Madera, California. Yang holds a master’s degree in health psychology from Loma Linda University and worked as a psychotherapist and social worker.