cover image All In

All In

Jerry Yang with Mark Tabb. Medallion, $24.95 (238p) ISBN 978-1-605421-88-9

Poker is one of the few competitive endeavors where amateurs can play alongside professionals and have a shot at beating them. That's what Yang, a psychologist and former social worker from California, did when he won the main event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas in 2007. In this first book, an earnest but plodding memoir, Yang tells of his journey from watching poker on ESPN and playing in small local tournaments to his $8 million WSOP victory, besting a field of nearly 6,400 players. Yang comes across as a competent player and not particularly adept at describing his simplistic poker strategy. But his WSOP victory does not hold a candle to his earlier life. A Hmong born in Laos, Yang fled the war-torn country with his family in 1975, lived for years in a Thai refugee camp, and eventually made it to California, a harrowing story of exile, deprivation, loss, and horror. Yang recounts this dramatic story with an admirable matter-of-fact tone, but even with veteran writer Tabb's help, the writing doesn't convey its full impact. Yang comes across as a good guy%E2%80%94he donates huge sums to children's charities%E2%80%94but neither poker players nor general readers will find much to cling to. (July)