The main event of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is over. Jerry Yang won. Not the Jerry Yang who co-founded Yahoo — this Jerry Yang is a one-time Laotian refugee, now a social worker and psychologist. He walked away with $8.25 million.
The final hand? Yang scored pocket 8’s, while his opponent, a professional online player named Tuan Lam, had A-Q of diamonds. Lam went all-in, and Yang called. The flop came Q-5-9, good news for Lam, but amazingly, the turn and the river gave Yang a 7, and then a ridiculous 6, filling in the straight. Yup, that’s poker they’re playing, all right.
Yang is an amateur qualifier, and his personal story is pretty great — he has six kids, and he plans to give 10 percent of his winnings to charity. But the main event has gotten so large, and poker has such a large random element, that it’s getting tough for skilled players to fight their way through the draw, and the final table just ends up feeling a bit like a crapshoot. Just about all the pros busted out early on — I think Scotty Nguyen got the furthest? That Chorus Line, unknown-qualifier-makes-good story read pretty well the first few times around, but it’s starting to get old. Maybe they should run this thing a bit more like Wimbledon.