Swedish player Jonas Hagstrom waited out a maze of Day 1 flights in the Mega Millions XVI at The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in California, buying in directly to Day 2 for $4,300.
It proved to be a fortuitous decision for Hagstrom, as he managed to turn that $4,300 into a $311,328 payday.
This big cash dwarfs his previous career live tournament earnings of $62,000.
Official Final Table Results
The unusual tournament had a $1 million guarantee and featured a variety of starting flights on different days and at different price points. Players could choose to enter starting flights for $550 or $160, with the top 10 percent advancing from the former and the top five percent advancing from the latter. Or, they could buy in to Day 2 directly as Hagstrom did.
Ultimately, the players generated a prize pool of $1,854,688 after the 108 Day 2 entries were added to the pile.
Chris Klodnicki was the most accomplished player to make a deep run into the final couple of tables, but he got felted in 12th when he got his short stack in with and couldn’t overcome an opponent with , according to the live updates.
Massoud Eskandari held the chip lead when the final table began. Xiao Ruan was in the midst of a nearly unthinkable second straight Mega Millions final table after a fifth-place finish last August for $69,335 in a field of over 11,000.
A couple of eliminations into that final table, Eskandari extended his lead by busting Benjamin Chanwith against all in preflop. He soon had half of the chips in play six-handed.
Stacks were mostly short all around outside of Eskandari, so Hagstrom was able to go from under 10 big blinds to second place in a hurry. He found a dream spot when he jammed over a Ruan open with and had Keyue Wang wake up with behind him. The aces held to send Wang out sixth.
A short-stacked Benjamin Nguyen went out fifth, and then Ruan got lucky with all in against the of Larry Serebryany, flopping a three and then holding on despite the presence of a Broadway straight draw for the unfortunate Serebryany. After Ruan took Serebryany’s remaining chips, he took over the chip lead with about half of the total chips.
After a fruitless deal discussion, players sat down to massive blinds of 750,000/1,500,000 with only about 100 million in play. Hagstrom picked up another big pair in a great spot, waking up with kings when Ruan shoved in the small blind with . The board got hairy for Hagstrom with hitting to give Ruan a gutshot and a pair, but the river was safe for the Swede to give him the lead.
Hagstrom then won a flip against Eskandari, and all of a sudden he had a 4-1 lead going heads up. He put the pressure on Ruan by shoving all in with , but Ruan woke up with a dominating and called. Hagstrom picked up outs when flopped to give him a flush draw. The paired him on the turn to bring still more outs, and the river sealed the deal.