Jerry Yang, 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event Winner

He was described in the Review-Journal as “poker’s accidental world champion”.

But in the early hours of July 18, 2007, Jerry Yang – a Laotian immigrant and married father of six from Temecula, California – survived the 6,358-player 11-day World Series of Poker Main Event at Rio to win 8, $25 million and the coveted bracelet.

Prior to the big win, Yang had only played for about two years, and even then it was for minor stakes at the poker rooms of Native American casinos near his home. The RJ reported that he won his entry into the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em World Championship event through a satellite tournament, and his investment was $225.

Yang had the eighth-largest chip stack at the start of the final table, according to RJ’s story, but he took the lead after two hours of play. He never relinquished that lead until the early hours.

Yang, a born-again Christian, said he asked for divine intervention several times during the nearly 4 p.m. finale.

“I asked God to help me win. I told him I could make my family and other less fortunate people happy with this money,” he said, admitting he often kneels in prayer in the toilet during breaks. “I give thanks to God. I won because he believed in me.

Prior to the start of the final table, Yang said he would donate 10% of his winnings to three charities: the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children and Ronald McDonald House. Later, he said he would donate the money to his alma mater, Loma Linda University.

In a 2011 story in the RJ, Yang always said he focused on low-buy-in games, avoiding high-stakes contests. He also promoted his autobiography, “All In: From Refugee Camp to Poker Champion”.

“My story is very unique,” ​​Yang said. “It’s about surviving just to get to the United States and surviving the poker tables. The title pretty much says it all because my family did everything just to get to the United States.

According to CardPlayer.com, the 2007 victory remains Yang’s only tournament victory on the professional circuit. At this year’s tournament, Yang finished 501st in $1,500 Monster Stack No-Limit Hold’em, good for $3,610.

His two biggest wins since 2007 were $75,000 for fifth place in the 2010 NBC Heads-Up National Championship and $57,772 for fourth place in a $1,700-$500,000 No-Limit Hold’em event. GTD on January 22 at the WSOP. Circuit for Northern California.

Contact Tony Garcia at [email protected] or 702-383-0307. Follow @TonyGLVNews on Twitter.

Joseph K. Bennett