Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Psych-out at the WSOP

Congratulations to Dr. Jerry Yang, a psychologist from Southern California, who in the wee hours of this morning won the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. Yang outlasted a field of 6,358 to take down the $8.25 million top prize and a lifetime of bragging rights.

Yang, a 39-year-old father of six, only started playing poker two years ago.

I hate him already.

(Just joshing, Doc.)

Yang is, in fact, not an atypical poker success story. A Hmong immigrant from Laos, Yang follows in the footsteps of numerous other top players — including Scotty "The Prince of Poker" Nguyen, the 1998 World Series Main Event winner — who came to the U.S. from southeast Asia and discovered the American dream through the great American game.

The poker-playing shrink bested a diverse final table, including players from Denmark, England, Russia, and South Africa, as well as Vietnam-born Canadian Tuan Lam, who finished second. The best-known player in the surviving nine, Spokane-area poker pro Lee Watkinson, busted out in eighth place.

As SSTOL regular Tom Galloway sagely predicted a few weeks ago, the Main Event field was narrowed considerably this year by fallout from recent legislation passed by Congress. Fear of possible prosecution has caused many online poker sites — a primary source of qualifiers for the WSOP — to discontinue accepting action from U.S.-based players. Only a handful of online casinos, including PokerStars, Ultimate Bet, and Full Tilt Poker, continue to keep the welcome mat out for courageous card-playing Americans.

Nice going, Dr. Yang. Save wisely — you've got a sextet of future college educations to fund with those millions.

By the way, I'm SwanShadow at PokerStars. Come play with me.

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2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Tom Galloway offered these pearls of wisdom...

Dr. Yang's name caused a few double takes here at work. Y'see, I work at Google, and Jerry Yang also happens to be the name of a Yahoo co-founder who recently returned to being their CEO.

4:32 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Tom: I knew that name sounded familiar. I just couldn't place where I'd heard it before. (I'm sure the Yahoo Yang's fortune makes the new WSOP world champion look like a relative pauper.)

4:39 PM  

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