Bold player sweeps table
LAS VEGAS — Jerry Yang, a 39-year-old psychologist who uses his professional training in his card-playing arsenal, won the $8.25 million top prize yesterday at the World Series of Poker.
Mr. Yang vaulted quickly from eighth to the chip lead soon after play began Tuesday afternoon.
“The only way I would win this tournament is to be aggressive from the very beginning and that’s exactly what I did,” he said.
An ethnic Hmong who grew up poor in Laos, Mr. Yang said before the final table began that he would donate 10 percent of his winnings to charity, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, the Ronald McDonald House and his alma mater, Loma Linda University.
He won his way into the main event from a $225 satellite tournament at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., and began playing poker only two years ago.
Despite his 5-foot-3-inch stature — often standing up from his seat to move chips or stare down opponents — Mr. Yang was an intimidating force at the table from the beginning.
He aggressively raised pots and became the first player at the table to go all-in. On the ninth hand, he forced Lee Childs, a 35-year-old software engineer from Reston, Va., to fold pocket queens, face up, on a board with a seven, four and deuce.
Mr. Yang began heads-up play with a giant chip lead against Tuan Lam, a 40-year-old professional online poker player from Mississauga, Ontario. Mr. Yang had 104.5 million in chips to Mr. Lam’s 23.0 million.
When a queen, five and nine came on the flop, it looked like Mr. Lam, waving a Canadian flag, would be on the verge of a miracle comeback, making a pair of queens for the lead.
But a seven on the turn and a six on the river gave Mr. Yang a straight, sealing a win in which he dominated the final table from the moment the nine finalists sat down.
“I’ve seen the miracles of God with my own eyes,” Mr. Yang said. “I did a lot of bluffing, also.”
Mr. Lam, who earned $4,840,981 for his second-place finish, was also a refugee who found his way to Canada from Vietnam. He said he would be returning to his village, Bao Trinh, to help those who need it.