Congratulations are in order for the charitable Jerry Yang for his win in the World Series of Poker Main Event. By all appearances, he provides a nice counter-point to last year’s champion in the humility department.
He’s also from my neck of the woods. IE! IE! IE! Oy! Oy! Oy!
The IE, for those of you unfamiliar with the desert environs east of Los Angeles, stands for Inland Empire. I’ll admit it’s sketchy to include Temecula, Yang’s place of residence, in the IE, as the Temecula Valley closer to San Diego than to L.A. But it holds up in spirit, having been pretty much a wasteland until massive development within the last 20 years, which is the common thread that binds all the exurbs out this way. Temecula is lovely, with dramatic hillsides, a frequent, if unexplainable, “ocean” breeze and, of course, Pechanga Indian Casino.
On the drive to Pechanga, you wonder where the hell it is. The feeder road runs right through a housing development, an honest-to-goodness neighborhood. And then the massive casino just appears behind someone’s backyard. They’ve got a great poker room, sprawling and comfortable, and the few times I’ve played there, I’ve found the fish to be pooling. In my case, of course, that means getting bad-beated to the felt.
Yang won a $225 satellite at Pechanga to qualify for the Main Event, so regardless of logistical or political haggling, I’m claiming him as one of my own. I’ve also started a new charity, Degenerate Dad’s Bankroll Builders, where fatherly gamblers can earn money for WPT events by building homes for the less fortunate. Non-profit status pending.
Congratulations again, Mr. Yang. Nice hand, sir.