Jerry Yang became poker’s newest champion this morning by besting a field of 6,358 players from around the globe to win the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em Championship at the 38th Annual World Series of Poker .
Yang, a 39-year-old psychologist and social worker from Temecula, California, caught an inside straight on the final card of the final hand and won the $8.25 million top prize at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino around 4 a.m.
Second-place finisher Tuan Lam of Canada won $4.84 million and Raymond Rahme of South Africa took home $3.05 million. The final table saw four Americans and five players from outside the United States compete for more than $22 million in prize money.
“The feeling is just unbelievable,” said Yang. “Words can’t explain it. I’m looking forward to using the money to help as many people as I can. I have promised to split 10 percent of my winnings among three different charities – the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, and the Ronald McDonald House – and that is the first thing I am going to do.”
A record 55 events made up the 2007 World Series of Poker, attracting 54,288 total registrants – the most in its 38-year history. The total prize pool at this year’s World Series of Poker topped $159 million.
The $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em Championship, commonly referred to as the Main Event, generated a prize pool of nearly $60 million; 621 players finished in the money and received at least $20,320.
Due to its starting size, the Main Event playing field was spread over four days, beginning July 6. The Main Event final table began July 17 at noon Pacific, with the remaining nine players finishing in the following order:
2nd Place: Tuan Lam, 41, of Mississauga, Ontario (Canada), $4,840,981
Lam is a professional poker player who was born in Vietnam and eventually immigrated to Canada at the age of 19. Prior to turning pro, Lam worked as a general laborer for a metal company. He is married with two children.
3rd Place: Raymond Rahme, 62, of Johannesburg, South Africa, $3,048,025
Rahme is the first person ever to appear at the final table of the Main Event from the continent of Africa. Prior to his retirement, he owned and operated a bed and breakfast. He and his wife, Teresa, have six children.
4th Place: Alex Kravchenko, 36, of Moscow, Russia, $1,852,721
Kravchenko is a businessman originally from Archangel, USSR. He became the first Russian citizen in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet when he was victorious in the $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low championship at this year’s WSOP.
5th Place: Jon Kalmar, 34, of Chorley, Lancashire (UK), $1,255,069
Kalmar is a professional poker player who competes mostly in clubs located in the north and the Midlands region of England. Married with one child, Kalmar once was the lead singer in a punk rock band.
6th Place: Hevad “Rain” Khan, 22, of Poughkeepsie, NY, $956,243
Khan is a professional poker player who attended college at the State University of New York-Albany. Regarded by many as the most aggressive player to make the final table, Khan was eighth in the chip count at the start of final table play.
7th Place: Lee Childs, 35, of Reston, VA, $705,229
Childs holds a BBA in computer information systems from James Madison University. He recently left a high-tech position with a firm affiliated with the National Geographic Society to pursue his passion for poker.
8th Place: Lee Watkinson, 40, of Cheney, WA, $585,699
Watkinson is a poker pro, businessman and animal rights activist. Among the businesses he owns are a record company and a clothing line.
9th Place: Philip Hilm, 31, of Cambridge (UK), $525,934
Hilm, a native of Denmark now living in England, was the chip leader heading into the final table. He earned an economics degree in Copenhagen.