Ruan made a big impression in the poker world in August when he won the $50,000 Super High Roller tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. He won $562,600 after defeating a 29-entry field in a head-to-head fight with high roller Dan Smith. Zhuang Ruan is busy advancing from one high-stakes tournament series to the another, while many 20-year-olds are merely struggling to remain awake during their college courses. Ruan has managed to keep active despite the fact that he isn’t even old enough to gamble in most U.S. casinos, earning $2.3 million in areas where he is permitted to do so. Fortunately for the Pennsylvania native, the minimum age to play poker in Florida is 18, as it is in much of Europe.
At the start of heads-up play, it appeared to be a true David vs. Goliath battle. A relative unknown who won’t even be old enough to compete in the World Series of Poker this autumn, up against a seasoned player who sits sixth on the all-time money list with $37.5 million in live event earnings. Smith surged off to an early lead, looking like he was set to win another victory to his already extensive CV, after talks of a chop fell through. Ruan, on the other hand, fought back and finally defeated Smith, winning the championship and, more importantly, the respect of the regulars at those stakes. Ended up winning a mid-six-figure prize pool and his first-ever $50,000 buy-in tournament, there was no celebration. In reality, Ruan didn’t say anything at all. He confidently strolled up to the cashier to collect his money after taking a photo of the winner with some of his buddies.
Before stepping foot inside the Seminole Hard Rock casino in Orlando, Florida, Ruan was already playing poker. He had accumulated a $50,000 bankroll by the time he was 17 and thought it was time to attempt full-time poker. He had no idea he was up against Dan Smith, one of poker’s most accomplished players. He was playing $10-$20 no-limit hold’em, the highest stakes accessible on Global Poker at the time, just five months after pulling out. Because he was “bored” with the two-card game, he switched to pot-limit Omaha.
He made his second big poker shift shortly after turning 20, this time to multi-table events. He was playing in the $5,000-$10,000 and $25,000 ranges instead of the $1,000 maximum buy-in. He thought that, unlike cash games on American-facing sites, the potential in these games was enormous. Ruan finished second at the GGPoker Spring Festival no-limit hold’em main event, taking home $952,195. For the third time, he won victorious in a third poker variation.
Ruan won his first five-figure buy-in a few weeks before the Super High Roller Bowl main event in Florida. In Florida, the legal age to play live poker is just 18. Ruan placed third out of 41 competitors, earning $1.64 million and his first seven-figure payday.