Jerry Yang

Born in Laos, Xao “Jerry” Yang was born in 1967 as a Hmong, but upon the takeover of his country by the Communists in the 1970’s, his family fled.

Born in Laos, Xao “Jerry” Yang was born in 1967 as a Hmong, but upon the takeover of his country by the Communists in the 1970’s, his family fled to a refugee camp in Thailand, where they lived for four years. He lost a brother and sister there before the U.S. government gave the green light for the Yang family to set up residence in the United States. Southern California has been his home since that move at the age of 13.

Yang did well in school and eventually graduated from Loma Linda University with a master’s degree in health psychology. He then took some time off to do missionary work but came back to work as a psychotherapist and social worker. His wife and six children took much of his time, but he managed to play some poker casually, even entering some tournaments with satisfactory results in 2006. But it was a $225 satellite that he won at Pechanga Resort and Casino in his home town of Temecula that got him a seat in the 2007 $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event.

He went on to make the final table, work from eighth in chips to take the lead, and ultimately defeat Tuan Lam heads-up to grab the WSOP bracelet and $8,250,000. He donated ten percent of those winnings to several charities, including Make-a-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, and Ronald McDonald House. Yang’s most recent poker accomplishment was a fifth place finish at the 2010 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship for a $75,000 payout. And he continues to donate a percentage of his winnings, as well as participate in charity tournaments, to benefit a variety of non-profit organizations.

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