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Temecula psychologist wins poker World Series

Jerry Yang claims $8.25 million in Texas Hold'em competition. He earned a seat by winning a tournament at Pechanga.

July 19, 2007|Tiffany Hsu | Times Staff Writer

Jerry Yang, a psychologist and social worker from Temecula, hit the biggest jackpot that Las Vegas had to offer this week.

The 39-year-old Laos native rose from the back of the pack to win $8.25 million early Wednesday in the No-Limit Texas Hold'em competition at the 38th annual World Series of Poker, after four days of card-playing that started July 6.

When the finals began at noon Tuesday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Yang was in eighth place out of nine players. At 4 a.m. Wednesday, Yang won when he topped Tuan Lam, a 40-year-old Vietnamese online poker professional from Mississauga, Ontario. Lam had a pair of queens; Yang, a straight.

Lam placed second with $4.84 million and Raymond Rahme of South Africa was third with $3.05 million.

This year, 6,358 players competed in Texas Hold'em while a record 54,288 competitors took part in the tournament. Yang, a Hmong immigrant who works at A Coming of Age Foster Family agency in Moreno Valley, won his $10,000 seat at the World Series after he bought into a May qualifying tournament at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula with $225.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 21, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Poker: A headline and article about World Series of Poker Texas Hold'em winner Jerry Yang in Thursday's California section identified Yang as a psychologist. Yang has a master's degree in health psychology and is employed as a social worker but is not a licensed psychologist.

World Series spokesman Dave Curley said Yang was not answering his cellphone after the victory, probably because he was sleeping off the effects of the all-night finals.

Throughout the tournament, the married father of six always kept a photo of his family next to his chips to remind everyone that he was playing for his children, Curley said.

And although he was stoic at the table, keeping a perfect poker face behind sunglasses and a baseball hat, Yang would break into smiles whenever he won a big hand and run to the stands to celebrate with family members, Curley said.

The relative rookie -- who started playing poker only two years ago -- has pledged 10% of his winnings to three charities: Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children and the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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