The 2022 Winnin’ O’ the Green Series at the Bicycle Casino has been doubling its six-figure guarantees all March, leading to optimistic expectations for this week’s series-closing Mega Millions Event.
The Mega Millions, which has been around since 2011 features several Day 1 sessions played out over the course of a week-and-a-half, with all survivors moving on to the same Day 2 finals. At those finals, players who hadn’t qualified yet can buy in directly for a certain amount much larger than the original Day 1 buy-in.
Appeals to all levels
Bicycle Casino Tournament Director Mo Fathipour is the creator of the Mega Millions tournament, and he is thrilled to have it back at the Bike after a three-year absence.
“This tournament is suited for everyone. Low buy-in players have $260, average players are at $560, and lots of the big players are waiting until the last day,’ Fathipour told CardsChat. “For the Day 1’s, you can turn $260 into $300,000. Day 2 buy-in players don’t want to waste their time in the first week.”
Fathipour went on to discuss how double qualifying helps incentivize the smaller buy-in players to play more. “The Day 1’s have over a week to double qualify. If they qualify three or four times, they’ve already locked up over $10,000 going into Day 2. It’s great for everyone.”
This particular run of the Mega Millions will start on Wednesday, April 6, and will have Day 1 sessions running until Sunday, April 17. There will be buy-in levels of $260, where the top 6% will advance to the finals, and $560, where the top 12% will. The Day 2 finals will take place on Monday, April 18, where players can buy-in directly for $3,500 in the first two hours of play.
The tournament will play down to the final table on April 19, which will be played out on the Live at the Bike stage on April 20.
“This one [Mega Millions] I think is going to be one of the biggest,” Fathipour predicted of the tournament. “Players have told me they are coming. I’m 100% sure it will get over $2 million. The Day 2 buy-in is a bit lower this time, $3,500. I think people will love it.”
The very first Mega Millions in 2011 saw a total of 5,829 total entries, and it was taken down by Pedram Sofferi. Interestingly enough, Sofferi has just five other cashes for $10,000, and hasn’t recorded a cash since 2011.
The event has often drawn criticism for giving poker pros a better chance to make the final table by buying into Day 2, but it wasn’t until the 10th edition of the event that Daniel Strelitz became the first Day 2 player to win it. Since that victory, Jonas Hagstrom, Ari Engel, and Danny Wong have also won the event by buying in on Day 2.
A past winner is ready to repeat
Mike Shariati won the event in 2015, and it propelled an incredible 12-month run. After winning the Mega Millions for $275,000, he would then win the Legend of Poker WPT Main Event just a few months later for a career-best score of more than $675,000. He also finished runner up at the LAPC Main Event at Commerce Casino, and would go on to win the WPT Player of the Year that year.
Shariati told us how special this event is to him, and shared that he barely made it to Day 2 with a short stack.
“I made it to Day 2 but with just five big blinds. I had a good run that day, but the end of the day, I flopped a set but ran into a bigger set and let it go. That ended up being the best hand I played, that fold. Then I made Day 3, and eventually, I won it.”
Shariati said the win gave him “a ton of confidence” and the bankroll to play the WPT events, where he went on to become that tour’s Player of the Year. “This event is amazing. I don’t know where else you can get a prize pool that big for a buy-in this low,” he said of Mega Millions.
This will be the first time that the Mega Millions has been run at the Bicycle Casino since Triet Nguyen won the Legends of Poker installment in August of 2019. That event finished in a five-way chop, including none other than Phil Hellmuth, who finished in fifth place, taking home $95,693.