This morning around 4:00am, after 16 hours of final table play, Jerry Yang, a 39 year old, father of 6, Laotian immigrant based in Temecula, CA, who has only been playing poker for 2 years, won the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event which carries an $8.25 million 1st prize.
Yang won his seat to the World Series by winning a $225 entry satellite at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA. The win paid for his $10,000 entry to the World Series and trip and accomodations in Las Vegas.
Prior to the event Yang said this of his poker experience:
“I am a very, very part time player. As a father of six, I don’t have a lot of time to play [and use] just a little change here and there.”
Having watched about 10 hours worth of the final table live in ESPN pay-per-view yesterday Yang was clearly an amateur.
However, he capitalized on the tightness of the other players at the final table, going from 8th to 1st within the first hour of the final table by making huge bets and raises to which players mostly folded.
Early on (the 9th hand), in a precursor of what was to come, Lee Childs layed down pocket Queens in response to an all-in raise by Yang. Yang took the pot of more than 11 million chips.
Yang also had two key all-in calls early on, and a suck out on a hand he pushed Lee Childs all-in, that fueled him to the lead and ultimately the title.
He called an all in by Phil Hilm on the turn with Aces (King kicker) to Hilm’s 5s with a diamond flush draw. When the river was not a diamond, 5 or 8, Yang took a huge pot – knocking out Hilm in 9th.
Just a bit later, Yang, in the small blind, called an all-in from Full Tilt Poker pro Lee Watkinson. Watkinson showed A-7; Yang A-9 suited. Yang’s hand held up and he took another huge pot.
Just a little after that, Yang raised Lee Childs, putting him potentially all-in. Childs called with K-Q, unwilling to lay down what he probably thought was another superior hand against Yang, and Yang showed J-8. There was an 8 on the turn however (Yang needed an 8, only 3 left in the deck, for about a 13% chance of hitting one on the turn or river) and Yang won with a pair of 8s.
At this point, Yang was the huge chip leader with about half the chips in play.
Yang has to be the most inexperienced, and worst, player to win the World Series of Poker.
The poker boom really took off with Chris Moneymaker’s win in the 2003 World Series. Moneymaker, a 27 year old accountant from Tennessee, won his way in by winning a $40 entry online tournament and ended up going all the way, knocking out some of pokers biggest names including Johnny Chan and Sam Farha along the way.
The large fields and consequent erratic play by some of the amateurs have been the subject of much discussion and frustration among poker’s elite. Yang’s win will only intensify that.
As poker becomes more and more popular and more and more less skilled amateur players start to play for big money, the game is changing and the only choice is to adapt to the new environment.