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 Chan with 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.
Photo courtesy of Bicycle Hotel & Casino
Be sure to complete your PokerNews experience by checking out an overview of our mobile and tablet apps here. Stay on top of the poker world from your phone with our mobile iOS and Android app, or fire up our iPad app on your tablet. You can also update your own chip counts from poker tournaments around the world with MyStack on both Android and iOS.