Xao "Jerry" Yang, born in 1968 in Laos, is a Health Psychologist, father of 6, and the 2007 World Series of Poker champion.
Laos, while a very very very incredibly beautiful land full of culture and good food, found itself in quite a lot of political turmoil in the early-to-mid 70s when the Communists decided to run the place. Yang's family fled the country, heading to the safer borders of Thailand.
Yang's family ahd to spend 4 years in a Thai refugee camp while he was still a child, enduring countless hardships. While in the camp, Yang also lost a brother and a sister.
Eventually, his family found its way to the United Stated, home of the free. Here, Yang devoted his life to help others to not endue the same hardships he went through.
Yang attended Loma Linda University in Southern California, which is also a deeply religious educational institute, and has earned a Master's Degree in Health Psychology. This psychology thing is perfect for poker, and Jerry Yang has demonstrated this equally well. Yang has worked as a Therapist and a Social Worker after having had his degree.
Jerry Yang's interest for poker started around and about 2005. He started participating in small cash games, and also small buy-in tournaments with moderate success, having had at least 4 cashes in local California Live Poker events up until 2007. But in 2007, a seemingly innocent event dramatically altered his life.
He entered a $225 satellite at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, and somehow luckboxed his way to a seat. Jerry Yang decided to play the event rather than take the money and run.
And what a decision it was. He somehow made his way to the final two tables, and flew so under the radar, that no one even gave any attention to him. He literally was not involved in any TV table or televised non-bustout-possibility hand for the duration of the play leading up to the Final Table.
At the Final Table, Jerry decided to activate the TURBOBOOST. Right at the outset, he deepstack-bluffed Lee Childs out of QQ. The thing is, the stacks at this particular final table were very deep and even though Jerry Yang started out 8th in chips, he could apply enough pressure to get Lee Childs to fold his overpair. After this hand, Yang grew to Hulk-like proportions despite being only 5'3". Jerry Yang used timely bluffs, soul reads, lucky turns and all his psycho-arsenal, and he personally knocked out 7 of the 8 opponents he faced amassing an enormous 5:1 chiplead going into HU vs. Vietnam-born Tuan Lam.
Several hands into HU, Lam pushed all in preflop while holding AQs. Yang instacalled while holding the 88. The flop came Q59, and Lam already started counting his chips to get doubled, and waving the Canadian flag, country in which he resided and represented. A 7 on the turn gave Lam some reason to worry, and Yang some hope. All was not lost.
The river, as always, was climatic. River 6 gave Jerry Yang a straight, a bracelet, the title of Main event Champion and a cool $8,250,000 in cold hard cash.
Yang could be frequently seen thanking Jesus Christ for his good fortune during broadcaster hands. Some people have criticized this, but hey, people criticize everything for no reason. He is indeed a very pious man, and extremely good natured. A gentleman, if there ever was any. Yang also vowed to donate 10% of his winnings to a variety of charities. He is really out there to make a change in this world.
Jerry Yang has been criticized by some as not being exposed enough, and not representing the status of Main event Champion well enough. He has not been seen a lot after his win, such as in nosebleed TV cash games such as High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. He has however, participated in the invitation-only and very prestigious 2008 NBC National HU event.
He might not have been a poker professional, and might not have many poker accolades under his belt, but the man used his particular style and good nature to cement his place among poker greats and has won the one of the biggest and with the largest prize pool live events in history. That sure takes something special to win. Hopefully we will see more poker from Yang's World in the future.
Common Misspellings: Jerry Yeng, Jery Yang, Jerry Yng, Jerry Ying
Learn more about Jerry Yang at Full Tilt Poker.
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