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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP Journal

With Faith, Jerry Yang Wins the WSOP Main Event

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Jerry Yang showed aggression quickly at the Final Table and never lost the chip lead after the 9th hand. The devout Christian knocked out seven of the eight players at the Final Table, including Tuan Lam heads-up over thirty-six hands. He takes home $8,250,000 for the victory. (photo courtesy of PokerNews)

The nine players gathered at the ESPN Feature Table, plasma screen televisions set up around the Amazon Room for the spectators who couldn't sneak into the bleachers. The seats were reserved for friends and family members of the players, and they were some of the most vocal railbirds in recent memory. Flags of Canada, South Africa, England, and Russia were waved in support of the international field of players left.
There was no clear favorite among the nine men, but one quickly emerged as play started.

Starting Chip Count

1s Jon Kalmar 20,320,000
2s Lee Childs 13,240,000
3s Philip Hilm 22,070,000
4s Jerry Yang 8,459,000
5s Raymond Rahme 16,320,000
6s Tuan Lam 21,315,000
7s Alex Kravchenko 6,570,000
8s Lee Watkinson 9,925,000
9s Hevad Khan 9,205,000
Jerry Yang raised or re-raised five of the first nine hands, and the ninth one showed who would be the force at the table. Lee Childs raised UTG to 720k, and Yang made it 2.5m to go. Childs called, and the flop came 7c-4d-2c. Childs bet 3m, and Yang immediately moved all-in. Childs was shaken, confronted immediately with his place at the Final Table. He finally folded two queens face up, and the 11.6m pot went to Yang. Yang replaced Childs in the 20m club. He went to work again on Hand #14. Yang raised ten times the big blind to 2.5m from the cutoff, and Philip Hilm called in the big blind. Hilm checked the {A-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{8-Spades}, and Yang bet 3m. Hilm called again, and {3-Diamonds} came on
the turn. Hilm checked, and Yang moved all-in. Hilm folded, and Yang moved into the chip lead.

On the next hand, Yang again raised this time to 1.0m. Hilm called from the small blind, and the flop came {K-Diamonds}{J-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}. Hilm checked, and Yang bet 2.0m. Hilm called then checked the {2-Hearts} turn. Yang bet 4.0m, and Hilm moved all-in. Yang called after some thought with {A-Diamonds}{K-Spades}, and Hilm had outs with {8-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}. The {6-Clubs} delivered the first player to exit, Philip Hilm in 9th ($525,934).

One of the favorites left next. In a battle of the blinds, Yang raised to 1.0m, and Lee Watkinson moved all-in for 9.715m from the big blind. Yang had the floor provide a count, then after some thought he called with {A-Spades}{9-Diamonds}. Watkinson was weaker with {A-Clubs}{7-Hearts}. The flop of {6-Diamonds}{4-Hearts}{2-Clubs} quickly showed that the kickers would play, and {K-Diamonds}{J-Spades} ended the day for Lee Watkinson in 8th ($585,699). Many had Watkinson pegged as the one to beat, but the chimp lover was out.

Another orbit brought another knockout punch from Yang. Lee Childs raised to 720k from the small blind, and Yang moved all-in from the big blind. Childs had 4.98m, and he called with {K-Hearts}{J-Clubs}. It was a great call as Yang showed {J-Spades}{8-Spades}. {6-Clubs}{4-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} brought confidence for Childs, but {8-Clubs} on the turn stunned everyone in the room. {9-Diamonds} on the river meant more chips for Yang to stack as Lee Childs was out in 7th ($705,229).

Chip Counts

1s Raymond Rahme (17.11m)
2s Alex Kravchenko (4.2m)
4s Jerry Yang (62.49m)
6s Tuan Lam (20.03m)
8s Jon Kalmar (15.91m)
9s Hevad "RaiNKhaN" Khan (7.76m)

Alex Kravchenko dropped down to 2.66m then moved all-in UTG for all of it. Hevad "RaiNKhaN" Khan did the same from the small blind, and Raymond Rahme folded. Kravchenko turned over {K-Spades}{J-Spades}, and Khan showed {3-Spades}{3-Hearts}. Kravchenko spiked a jack on the flop to double up.

On the next hand, Yang made it 1.5m, and Khan raised to 6.0m from the small blind. Rahme folded, then Yang finally called after several minutes. When Khan heard that, he moved all-in blind before the flop which came {K-Clubs}{4-Clubs}{2-Diamonds}. Yang called with {J-Hearts}{J-Spades}, and Khan showed {A-Spades}{Q-Spades}. He got no help with two black threes on the turn and river, and Hevad "RaiNKhaN" Khan finished in 6th ($956,243).

Chip Counts

1s Raymond Rahme (15.96m)
2s Alex Kravchenko (5.17m)
4s Jerry Yang (73.04m)
6s Tuan Lam (19.92m)
8s Jon Kalmar (13.41m)

On Hand #60, Raymond Rahme made it 2.7m to go. Jon Kalmar moved all-in for a total of 13.245m.Rahme called with {J-Diamonds}{J-Spades}, and Kalmar had {A-Spades}{K-Hearts}. It was a board of bricks with {10-Clubs}{9-Hearts}{6-Hearts}{3-Clubs}{3-Hearts}, and Jon Kalmar finished in 5th place ($1,255,069). Rahme moved up to 30.01m for second, with Tuan Lam (17.46m) and Alex Kravchenko (8.71m) chasing Yang's 71.31m.

It was a quick run of five dozen hands that sent five players out, but these four played together for 107 hands. Yang kept the chiplead throughout, but the other three exchanged chips back and forth. Kravchenko doubled through Yang early when he moved all-in with pocket threes then spiked a three on the flop against Yang's {K-Spades}{Q-Hearts}. Tuan Lam then doubled through Yang with {K-Spades}{Q-Clubs} on a {J-Spades}{10-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} flop vs. Yang's {A-Spades}{10-Hearts}. He spiked a queen on the river to move up to 23.0m. Kravchenko then finally brought Yang below 50.0m for the first time when his pocket kings held up against Yang's {A-Spades}{10-Diamonds}.

Chip Counts After Hand #108

1s Raymond Rahme (30.45m)
2s Alex Kravchenko (27.6m)
4s Jerry Yang (47.73m)
6s Tuan Lam (21.7m)

Lam slipped down to 11.65m as he tried to get something going. He came over the top of Yang's 2.5m raise with {A-Hearts}{5-Hearts}. He made a stand, but Raymond Rahme found {Q-Clubs}{Q-Diamonds} and moved all-in for 28.75m. Yang thought long and hard with the chance to take out two players, but he folded. Lam flopped an ace and rivered a full house to move safely from the short stack. Rahme moved all-in three times in a row, clearly shaken by the hand.

Blinds were 300k/600k with a 75k ante, and everyone had an M of >15
In Hand #149, Kravchenko raised to 1.75m UTG. Yang made it 6.25m from the button, and Rahme moved in again from the big blind for 17.125m. Kravchenko got out of the way, and Yang was delighted to see that his

{Q-Hearts}{Q-Spades} was way ahead of Rahme's {A-Spades}{Q-Diamonds}. The first card of the flop was {A-Diamonds}, and Rahme's pair of aces brought him up to 36.6m and Yang down to 41.63m.

In Hand #167, Kravchenko raised to 2.1m from the small blind. Yang moved all-in from the big blind, and Kravchenko quickly called with {A-Spades}{K-Diamonds}. Yang had {8-Diamonds}{8-Hearts}, but it was a quick race on the flop of {Q-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}{8-Spades}. The set held up, and Alex Kravchenko left with only one WSOP bracelet from this year's summer, out in 4th ($1,852,721).

Two hands later, Yang made it 2.6m from the button, and Rahme raised to 8.6m from the big blind. Yang took some time then called, and the flop came {A-Diamonds}{J-Hearts}{8-Hearts}. Rahme checked, and Yang bet 10.0m. Rahme moved all-in for another 17.35m, and Yang started thinking and observing. They sat for several minutes, the 62 year-old South African leaning forwards on his knees. He suddenly told Yang, "Make your decision," and that was the tell that Yang needed. He called and showed {A-Spades}{5-Spades}, as good a call as a final table has scene, and Rohme showed {K-Hearts}{K-Spades}. He got no help, and Raymond Rahme went out in 3rd ($3,048,025).

Jerry Yang (102.15m) dominated Tuan Lam (25.325m) early in heads-up play, rolling over the more experienced Lam and whittling his stack down to 10.05m. After the break, the blinds moved up to 400k/800k with a 100k ante and a new Tuan Lam emerged. He made a stand with {4-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} and spiked a four to breathe new life into him. He then fought hard and looked like he might pull the battle back square. (photo courtesy of PokerNews)

On the 36th heads-up hand, Yang made it 2.3m to go. Lam moved all-in, and Yang called for 22.2m. Both men were excited to see their cards, {8-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} for Yang and {A-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds} for Lam. The flop of {Q-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Spades} brought groans through the Media Room as it looked like we'd keep going for awhile more. {7-Diamonds} was a perfect drama card as Yang picked up eight more outs for the straight. The river of {6-Hearts} was magic, sending the pot and the WSOP Main Event to Jerry Yang.

Tuan Lam took home $4,840,981 for 2nd place, and his story of how he made it to the Main Event was incredible. "I was at the airport for a flight to Vietnam, and my luggage was on the plane. For some reason, I just felt like I needed to play in the Main Event, and so I decided to head to Las Vegas instead." It was well worth the U-turn as he joins the recent ranks of Paul Wasicka, Steve Danneman, David Williams, and Sammy Farha as those coming in 2nd place.

Jerry Yang brings home $8,250,000, and he will be one of the most unusual Main Event Champions in the history of poker. He is a devout Methodist and is very open about his faith. He's pledged 10% of his winnings to three charities (Ronald McDonald House, The Make a Wish Foundation, and Feed the Children) and is easily seen as a humble man of conviction. When asked which was more important, the bracelet and the money, he said, "No question, it is the money. I can do so much good work for the community and even the overseas in missionary work."

His goal won't be to change poker, but you can guarantee that he will change many lives along the way.

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