MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – YEN DANG
Name: Yen Dang
Current Residence: Denver, Colorado
Profession: Professional Poker Player (4 years)
Previous Occupation: Student (Law School)
Marital Status: Single
Number of WSOP Cashes: 1
Number of WSOP final table appearances: 1
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: None
Total WSOP Earnings: $170,587
Note: Dang will be classified as a pro poker player in WSOP records, since she plays cash games full-time and has been in the game for about five years.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: So, how does it feel to win the gold bracelet at the 2012 Ladies World Poker Championship?
Dang: Amazing! I mean, I had a mission to play this tournament and just win and it’s just incredible that you set your mind at something and you accomplished it. I didn’t expect it, but I worked really hard to try and get here, so it’s just amazing that I’m here.
Question: This event is important for a lot of reasons -- particularly, because it’s a showcase for women in the game. It celebrates women, and it brings more women into the game. Are you ready to be an ambassador for that cause?
Dang: I’ve been playing poker for five or six years and I’m mostly a cash player and I play with a lot of men. In my opinion, I think any female, if they put their mind to it, can play just as well as a man can play in this game. I love poker, so I would definitely advocate any woman who’s interested in playing poker.
Question: Where did you first get interested in the game?
Dang: I started learning the game in 2005 after I decided that I wasn’t going to go back to law school. Then I just played pretty much home games recreationally. Then about a year ago this summer, I quit my job and I started to take a shot at playing poker for a living. So far, it’s been great!
Question: Was this the first time you played this ladies event?
Dang: In 2005 -- so I played it a long time ago when I just started. This is my second ladies event here at the Rio.
Question: Talk about you heads-up match with (runner-up) Debbie Pechac.
Dang: The thing about poker is that we all know how to play. You just have to know who you’re playing against, I mean your opponent. I played with her last night at the final table and previously. So, I know how she played. We analyzed it when we got back at the end of the day yesterday. Let’s just say I knew my strategy going into this and I knew Debbie was an aggressive player. I pretty much knew what to expect playing with her.
Question: Aside from poker, we’d like to know a little more about you.
Dang: I was born in Vietnam. I grew up mostly in California. Then, we moved to Denver when I was a teenager. So, I pretty much I call it ‘home’ at this point, because my adult life has been in Denver. I always wanted to be a lawyer. That’s the path I was going towards. But then all of a sudden, I decided to take a year off from law school and have my son. Then I found poker and home games. I thought it would be challenging and something that I felt I could be good at. So I just kept pursuing it and playing it to try and get better. I just kind of learned through watching other people play and playing myself. So I just decided to take the plunge and do it. My friend here was playing poker for a long time and he told me how profitable it was and so it was a no-brainer to try it.
Question: Where do you play mostly?
Dang: I started playing No-Limit in 2005 and in Colorado. There’s a $100 max bet, so at the casino’s they only have $30- 60 Limit games. That’s the main game I played. We’ll go to Commerce or the Bellagio and play $40-80 and we’ll change it up. But lately, for the past year, I’ve been focusing on Limit Hold’em, not No-Limit.
Question: Do you think poker ultimately will be fulfilling enough for you? Or, might you want to go back to law school or do a little more? This is obviously exciting, but sometimes not enough for some people.
Dang: You know, I talk about that all the time. I feel like some days you feel kind of discouraged. Either you lose or you’re not feeling challenged enough in what you do. But then it goes away. So, I just have a mindset that no matter what you do, you’re going to get discouraged or bored eventually, even if you like it. But in poker, it changes, every hand changes, the way you play, it evolves so much, it keeps you interested. It never gets boring. Therefore it’s something I can’t say about most other occupations. Poker never gets boring.