Former gambler motivates people to abstain from their addiction

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/11 18:42:31

Yao Jianyun Photo: Courtesy of Yao Jianyun

Life is just like gambling. This phrase is frequently uttered by Yao Jianyun both in lecture halls and everyday life.

The 54-year-old man, once called the "King of the Gamblers" by the media, now spends time shuttling between cities, sharing his own experience to motivate others to quit gambling and instruct people to take control of their lives.

Both of his legs were amputated in 1993 after he was beaten after being caught cheating while gambling.

He is now welcomed at various conferences and events, trying to persuade people to quit gambling and seek spiritual growth in life.

"We cannot live our lives in vain. Many people just don't realize how their lifestyle will impact their path in life," Yao told the Global Times.

Dramatic start

Yao was well-known for his bad boy reputation in his hometown in Fuzhou, East China's Jiangxi Province when he was young. He dropped out of school at 9 years old.

He then worked as a laborer at a construction site in Nanchang, capital of the province, earning a very meager salary that could barely feed himself. It was at that time when Yao started to gamble.

Laborers gambled in their pastime. "I stole when I lost money. I was caught when I stole money," Yao said.

Informed by other prisoners while he was in jail that there are tricks to winning in gambling, he made up his mind to learn how to cheat.

After he was released from prison, Yao took lessons from a man who was a famous "cheating master" of the underground.

There is an old Chinese saying that "Nine out of 10 gamblers are cheats, and the winner is always cheater," which applies to Yao perfectly as he made big bucks through cheating.

By the time he was in his 20s, Yao earned millions of yuan and became famous in the city of Nanchang.

His luck soon turned after he made his fortune.

In October 1993, Yao got onboard a casino ship with a businessman to sail off the coast of Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province.

Taking millions in cash and two of his men, Yao was in the biggest gamble of his life.

His cheating gimmick was exposed on the spot by his opponents as his man betrayed him while the casino ship sailed into international waters.

Later, six men forced him down, shot bullets through his legs and chopped off three fingers from his left hand with a knife.

"This was my payback for my immoral behavior (referring to his cheating)," Yao told the Global Times.

The gambling had left him in a downward spiral. "I started to hate everyone around me and be away from people," Yao said.

He spent his time alone and watched TV all day long at home.

The depression shadowed his life for many years. He even tried to commit suicide. In August 1998, Yao divorced his then wife, and left all his fortunes to her and their daughter.

Later, Yao found a job of singing in night clubs and recreation venues in many provinces, including Hunan and Hubei.

While entertaining his audiences, he would also showcase cheating skills to them. These performances were very popular among the audiences and Yao made a name.

Role changing

Starting from 2004, Yao was invited to participate in an anti-gambling program on China Central Television, during which he exposed the cheating methods in gambling to discourage people with the addicting habit.

He later gained popularity in many newspapers and TV programs. His story  —  "King of Gamblers" publicize "anti-gambling" — has been regarded as an example to encourage people to keep away from the addiction.

But doubts and criticism followed him. A local newspaper in 2005 called him a swindler, writing that his legs were run over by a train.

"I know what I've been through. I didn't respond and I don't have to explain," Yao said, apparently offended by such rumors.

Now, Yao is very busy attending different commercial activities in cities across China as a motivational speaker, giving lectures and speeches to people who want to improve their businesses and personal relations.

His fees doubled over the years. Always invited by commercial business operators of luxurious car brands, Yao is not dizzy with wealth and believes life has no shortcuts.

He once tried to start an anti-gambling club in his hometown, where he would persuade people to quit their addiction by showcasing his cheating techniques.

But the local government did not approve the project for fear that Yao may use such a club to make money through teaching cheating skills.

Many people make profits and promote gambling under the disguise of anti-gambling.

Even though he seldom goes back home because of his busy schedule, he always has the support of his family.

He is remarried to a woman he met in 2009, who has shown warmth to Yao when he was in need of help. They have a 4-year-old daughter.

Yao said he is satisfied with the life that he is now living and has control over his own life.

"My family motivates me to be better. I don't want to let them down," Yao said.

Newspaper headline: From cheater to teacher

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