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Yang wins 2007 WSOP Main Event

18 July 2007

Miracles happen.

Amateur Jerry Yang, a 39-year-old former Laos refugee who came to America, graduated from college, and fathered six children, prayed every time his chips went into the pot.

And his prayers were answered.

He came to the final table as the second-shortest stack and ended up winning the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event handily. His Hyper-aggressive style dominated the final table, eliminated seven of his eight opponents and won him $8.25 million.

Hugging everyone in sight after the final hand played out (including the dealer), Yang joyfully spent most of the victory moments with his wife. She was crying. Yang held her close and whispered within camera earshot, "Don't cry. It's just a poker tournament, it doesn't matter that much."

The win will matter greatly to the people in the new champ's life.

His six children are part of a 36-grandchild contingency that will benefit from his improbable win. Yang's favorite charities will also receive their share of the windfall. He promised to donate 10 percent of his winnings, a total of $825,000.

"Obviously I want to help my family," Yang said. "But I also have bigger goals for this money too."

Yang's humble and prayerful approach to the game was a sharp contrast to the perception of the average poker player. His loud prayers and insistence on thanking God for his victory was a little unnerving to some at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, but it was seemingly genuine, eventually melting the hearts of everyone in the crowd.

ESPN analyst Phil Gordon admitted to tearing up during the post-match interview.

Yang mentioned two specific miracle saves during his amazing Main Event run. Down to just $3,600 chips on Day Two, Yang survived a desperate all-in call, hitting a runner-runner straight with his dominated A-4. Later that day, he faced a pair of Queens with a meager 4-4 holding, only to pray for a set and watch as the four appeared.

"I watched miracles happen in this tournament," Yang said.

Gordon said after the tournament that Yang may be the most "humble champion in history," and WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack told Yang that there is little doubt he will do great things as poker's newest ambassador.

But Yang wanted to talk more about his worthy competitors.

Second-place finisher Tuan Lam sat back for most of the final table, conserving his chips and waiting as Yang eliminated most of his foes.

He was patient until the end, finally pushing his last chips in the middle with A-Q. Yang had him beat before the flop with 8-8, but the first three cards produced an Ace and the Canadian-born Lam was waving his country's flag as he moved ahead. The celebration was premature as Yang had one more miracle up his sleeve - running cards that straightened out his pocket pair.

Lam's patience and play paid off, however, earning him $4.8 million.

The final table's oldest player, 62-year old South African Raymond Rahme was also patient, looking tired at times during the 15-hour final table. But he was able to outwit Father Time long enough to earn a third-place finish and $3 million. He was the first South African to make a WSOP Main Event final table.

Fourth-place Alex Kravchenko (Russia), a 2007 WSOP bracelet winner and England's John Kalmer, the fifth-place finisher, both earned more than $1 million.

The poker world welcomed may have welcomed five new millionaires early Wednesday morning, but the day belonged solely to Yang. Norman Chad ended the Main Event with his usual wit-filled interview, asking Yang if this was the most poker God has ever watched over.

Yang laughed along with the crowd, but when Chad asked Yang if he planned to go back to work, the new champ proved he too had a sense of humor.

"I plan to at least give my two week's notice," Yang said.


Mucking McLane
Yang wins 2007 WSOP Main Event is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.