Jerry Yang is not the first World Series of Poker champ to sell his bracelet and he won’t be the last. His sale, though, appears to be the only one that is against the player’s will. His 2007 WSOP Main Event bracelet, along with numerous other items, have been seized by the United States Internal Revenue Service and will be auctioned off on April 4th.
According to the Notice of Encumbrances posted on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website, Yang owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. There are four line items showing money owed to the California Franchise Tax Board, the department that deals with personal income taxes and corporate taxes, totaling $3860.50.
On the federal side, there are three line items for the IRS. One is for just $461.11, but two, showing dates of June 23rd in both 2007 and 2008, are for $571,894.54 each. It is not exactly clear whether Yang is responsible for paying over half a million dollars twice or if the second is just a re-listing of the first (our guess is it’s probably a re-listing). If he’s on the hook for everything, that’s over $1.1 million owed to the federal government.
The IRS has listed 16 items that will be up for auction, including the gold and diamond Corum bracelet Yang received for winning the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event. A Corum watch he also received for that win is up for bids, as are eight other watches. Other gold jewelry is on the list, including one curious item: a “WSOP Champ” gold bracelet. From the picture, it looks like it was from a preliminary event in either 2003 or 2007 (the last digit isn’t quite clear). Yang’s only WSOP win was the 2007 Main Event, so this is a bracelet he likely purchased at some point.
Jerry Yang’s $8.25 million victory has been the subject of debate over the years. He went into the final table as one of the shortest stacks and used a hyper-aggressive strategy to quickly build his chip stack. He knew that he wasn’t the most skilled at the table, so his frequent all-ins were likely necessary for him to have a chance. Many in the poker community saw his win as an unfortunate instance of a “donk” luckboxing his way to a title, but others appreciated that he never made himself out to be the king of the poker world.
Once Yang had made the money, he had pledged to donate 10 percent of his winnings to three charities: the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, and the Ronald McDonald House.
In 2009, he put down $540,000 to open Pocket 8’s Sushi and Grill in Merced, California, named after his hole cards on the championship hand. The taxes owed to the state of California could possibly be from that restaurant, though they could also be personal income taxes. The eatery has received mixed reviews on yelp.com, averaging three out of five stars.