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Hand History Rewind: Jerry Yang Dominates The 2007 World Series Of Poker Main Event

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jul 15, 2020

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The 2020 World Series of Poker was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas this summer, marking the 15th year that the main event has crowned a champion at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. (The 2005 main event was finished at Binion’s Horseshoe.)

That streak is now in jeopardy because of the pandemic that has put a stop to live poker tournaments all over the globe, but officials hope that the series, or at least the main event, can be played out in the fall.

With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to look back at the first main events held at the Rio. Last issue we revisited Jamie Gold’s dominating run in 2006, when he eliminated seven of his eight competitors at the final table en route to winning the $12 million first-place prize. This issue, we move on to 2007, when Jerry Yang ran through a field of 6,358 to earn a payday of $8.25 million. Incredibly, Yang also managed to knock out seven of his eight final table opponents.

Yang was a complete unknown to the poker world when he won the main event. The Temecula, California resident stuck around for a bit following his life-changing win, but could never get much traction on the tournament circuit. His next best score was a $75,000 cash for finishing fifth in the 2010 National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

Yang eventually used his poker winnings to open two restaurants, before ultimately opting to do missionary work in his native Laos and Thailand.

Here are five key hands from the final table. (Notice the large preflop raise sizes!)

Tournament: 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event
Buy-In: $10,000
Prize Pool: $59,784,954
No. of Entries: 6,358
First Place Prize: $8,250,000

The Action

Yang took the chip lead on hand no. 14 of the final table, and on the very next deal, he took out Hilm in ninth place. Less than an orbit later, he raised to 1,000,000 from the small blind. Watkinson responded by shoving all in for 9,715,000. Yang asked for a count, and it took several minutes for the dealer and tournament director to verify the amount. After confirming the count, Yang made the call with ASpade Suit 9Diamond Suit, which had Watkinson’s AClub Suit 7Heart Suit dominated. There was a roughly 16 percent chance the pot could be split, but that went out the window with a low flop of 6Diamond Suit 4Heart Suit 2Club Suit. The turn was the KDiamond Suit, leaving Watkinson with just three outs. The river was the JSpade Suit, and just like that, Yang had eliminated perhaps his biggest threat at the final table while securing a sizable chip lead. A very disappointed Watkinson took home $585,699 for his eighth-place run.

The Action

After getting a little lucky to bust Childs in seventh and continue his dominance, Yang had amassed about half of the chips in play. Khan lost a flip to Kravchenko, but still had plenty of chips to work with. Yang raised to 1,500,000 in middle position (yes, five times the big blind) and Khan reraised to 6,000,000, more than half of his stack, from the small blind. Yang went into the tank and then made the call. Khan, who had 3,440,000 remaining, then moved all-in blind before the flop. The dealer put out the KClub Suit 4Club Suit 2Diamond Suit, and Yang called with pocket jacks. Khan showed an unimproved ASpade Suit QSpade Suit, and failed to connect with the 3Club Suit and 3Spade Suit completing the board. Khan banked $956,243 for finishing in sixth place.

The Action

After dominating the start of the final table, Yang was suddenly mortal again after giving up multiple double ups to Kravchenko, and one massive double to Rahme. The evening stacks led to a long four-handed battle, but eventually Kravchenko raised to 2,100,000 from the small blind. Yang responded by moving all in from the big blind, and Kravchenko wasted no time calling with ASpade Suit KDiamond Suit for a total of 19,825,000. The board fell QDiamond Suit 9Heart Suit 8Spade Suit 4Club Suit 3Spade Suit, and suddenly Yang had separated himself once again. Kravchenko was short stacked for most of the final table and did well to ladder up to a fourth-place payday of $1,852,721, but he was just one coin flip away from taking the chip lead and perhaps the main event title.

The Action

Yang raised to 2,600,000 from the button, and Rahme three-bet to 8,600,000 from the big blind. Yang called, and the flop fell ADiamond Suit JHeart Suit 8Heart Suit. Rahme checked, and Yang bet 10,000,000. Rahme then moved all in for 27,350,000. Yang thought it over for four minutes and then made the call with AClub Suit 5Spade Suit. Rahme was behind, having turned his pocket kings into a bluff. The turn and river fell 3Spade Suit 2Diamond Suit, and Rahme was sent to the rail in third place to collect his $3,048,025. Yang collected the pot and a nearly 5:1 chip lead going into heads-up play.

The Action

Yang raised to 2,300,000 on the button and Lam moved all in for 22,200,000. Yang didn’t wait long before calling with pocket eights, and saw that he was racing against Lam’s ADiamond Suit QDiamond Suit. The flop of QClub Suit 9Club Suit 5Spade Suit put Lam into the lead. The turn was the 7Diamond Suit, giving Yang four outs to a straight to go along with his eights. The river was the 6Heart Suit, and Yang’s rail erupted in celebration as he had secured the 2007 main event title. Lam earned $4,840,981 for finishing runner up, while Yang picked up the lion’s share with $8,250,000.

Final Table Results

1. Jerry Yang — $8,250,000
2. Tuan Lam — $4,840,981
3. Raymond Rahme — $3,048,025
4. Alex Kravchenko — $1,852,721
5. Jon Kalmar — $1,255,069
6. Hevad Khan — $956,243
7. Lee Childs — $705,229
8. Lee Watkinson — $585,699
9. Philip Hilm — $525,934