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23/07/2007 No. 35
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday July 23, 2007

Another World Series draws to a close, and we have a new world champion: Jerry Yang, former refugee from Laos, now a Californian social worker with six children and a strong religious faith. His success has a dream quality not seen since Chris Money-maker won the title in 2003; Yang has been playing poker for only two years, and won into the tournament from a $225 satellite.

Now, of course, the debate begins as to whether he was brilliant or just goddamn lucky. He played a lot of hands, often putting his money in with the worst of it and hitting miracle cards. But with sharply staggered final-table prizes ($8.25m for first place, $525k for ninth), it was vital to play hard, and in my opinion it takes guts to do that when the temptation is there to try to pass one's way up the ladder.

This year's WSOP will also be remembered for some fireworks from the big names. The ludicrous spectacle of Phil "Poker Brat" Hellmuth turning up at the main event in a racing car, crashing it into a bollard, making a second big arrival in a limousine (still wearing bike leathers), limping into the tournament arena and getting knocked out almost immediately. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow wrestling on the floor with the poor actor hired to wear a peanut costume to promote tournament sponsor Planters (as if Matusow, himself plastered in Full Tilt logos, was any higher caste). Brandi Hawbaker, controversial stripper-turned-player, telling an opponent to "Go fuck yourself" when he tried to shake her hand.

Jerry Yang seems like a humble, gentle fellow, who is donating 10% of his winnings to charity because (he said tearfully when he won), "I know what it's like to be poor." Hurray for another little-guy champion: the game needs his spirit, and I hope he hangs on to it.

Your can read more byAnthony Holden at his website

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