I get asked a lot about whether you can harness the power of voodoo conjure or Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) to win at poker. I believe you can. Mostly, however, it will do no more than bring you the edge (not to be sneezed at)…but it has also made more than a few players rich.

For me, the most remarkable example of this kind of thing in action was down to prayer. If you don’t believe in God in the conventional sense, you could see prayer as a magical incantation to bring out your hidden powers, or somehow summon the aid of the numinous (unseen occult world).

But Jerry Yang, who won the World Series Of Poker (WSOP) tournament in July 2007, at the age of 39, earned himself a cool $8.25 million and the coveted WSOP gold bracelet, made no bones about it. He was a holy roller. So he put his luck down to faith in God.

Whatever you believe, it was a motherf***er of a miracle. Especially considering that Jerry, who was a California-based psychiatrist, had only started playing poker two years before his big win.

This is how the mega prize-winning game panned out…

When play began on 6 July there were 6,358 players in the No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em main event, the biggest poker tournament of the year.

Whenever Jerry was in an all-in situation, he’d kiss the picture of his children and say a prayer. One time, he had a pair of fours against an over-pair. Jerry said: “I kept saying ‘Lord, give me a set.’ And there was a four on the flop.”

Another time, he said, “Lord if you want me to win this, put the ace or the four on the river.” And he got the goddamn four!

Jerry’s praying was answered on the last hand too. He raised on the button (meaning he was dealer) and his opponent, Tuan Lam, went all in.

Yang thought for a bit, then called with his pocket eights.

Lam had an ace and queen. The flop was queen, nine, five. Yang needed some help if he was going to beat Lam’s pair of queens. So he called on the Lord again.

The turn was a seven giving Yang a chance of making a straight. The river was a six and Jerry won the tournament with a nine-high straight.

Now, I don’t think you have to be a holy roller to follow Jerry’s lead. I’d say it was his belief that brought out his ESP powers. You could get the same effect with a voodoo charm or amulet, or by or praying to your own personal spirits.

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