A Poker Life: Jeremy Ausmus
Ausmus Finds Tournament Stardom After Cash Game Anonymity
One of the downsides of being a successful cash-game player is that your wins are rarely, if ever reported. This was the case with Colorado-native Jeremy Ausmus, who toiled in relative anonymity, recognized only by other Las Vegas grinders who had the misfortune of battling it out against him.
In fact, until the 2012 World Series of Poker main event final table, Jeremy Ausmus was one of the best players you had never heard of. Since his seven-figure score on poker’s biggest stage, the 34-year-old has traded in his regular seat at Bellagio for a life on the road, spending more than a year playing all over the world in places such as Los Angeles, New Orleans, France, and Australia.
In just over 15 months since his life-changing finish, Ausmus has added another seven figures to his poker resume and now boasts $3.6 million in career tournament earnings.
Ausmus was born and raised in Lamar, Colorado, a small town a little over two hours southeast of Colorado Springs. He spent his teen years working in a wood shop and continued his trade as a cabinet maker while in Fort Collins attending Colorado State University.
Ausmus went to college on a five-year plan, taking a year off and switching his major before settling on a degree in economics. It was during his senior year that he began taking poker seriously, playing in private games around campus. After graduation, there was little doubt that he’d make a run at playing professionally.
“This wasn’t a situation where I was procrastinating on finding a real job,” Ausmus insisted. “I had dreams of playing for a living. I was keeping good records and was winning. My cabinet job paid $11 an hour, but I was making close to $30 an hour playing poker. That’s about $60,000 a year. With an entry-level job in economics, I’m not sure I could’ve made the same amount of money. Keep in mind that this was all based on live cash games around Fort Collins, playing nothing but $1-$2 and $2-$5 games, so there was definitely room for growth.”
Despite the earning potential of the games around his alma mater, Ausmus couldn’t wait to get started and pack up his belongings, along with a modest $6,500 bankroll, to move to Las Vegas in 2005.
“I moved out with some poker friends, but almost all of them have since moved on to different professions,” he recalled. “I started out playing at the Palms and there was definitely an adjustment period. The games were a lot tougher than the games I had played in Colorado. Then I started playing on DoylesRoom.com where the competition was much softer. I remember having a $10,000 month in December, which at the time was huge for my confidence.”
Cash Game Grind Begins
With his newfound momentum, Ausmus ventured back into live cash games, while continuing to build a sizable online bankroll as well.
“In 2006, I divided my time between the $5-$10 game at the Wynn and the $5-$10 and $10-$20 game on DoylesRoom. That’s where my bankroll really took off. After the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) passed, I couldn’t play on DoylesRoom anymore. So that’s when I transitioned to Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. For the next four years, until Black Friday, I just grinded cash games online.”
With Black Friday essentially cutting Ausmus off from the rest of the poker world, he took his game back to the live arena, becoming a member of the day crew in Bellagio’s $10-$20 no-limit hold’em game. The friendly game was full of regulars and was the perfect place for Ausmus to exercise his skills.
“After Black Friday, I was kind of forced back into live play. I had gotten into mixed games, but I was mainly playing the $10-$20 game at Bellagio since it was the biggest regularly running game in town. I don’t want to come off as arrogant, but I was one of the most respected players in the game, just based on win rate. I love playing online poker, but the games at that level were so much softer live. If you have a good sense of live tells and are pretty good at sizing people up, then you can do really well for yourself.”
Becoming a Tournament Player
Ausmus had dabbled a bit in tournaments, chopping a tournament at the Wynn early in his career and earning $190,000 in a 2011 event at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t until the 2012 World Series of Poker main event that he began to hit the tournament circuit hard.
It was there that Ausmus changed his life by becoming a member of the November Nine. What made his run even more impressive was the fact that he was forced to prepare for the final table while awaiting the birth of his second child.
“The due date was within four days of the final table, but my son was actually born five and a half weeks early. Up until that point, I had almost no time at all to focus on poker, so even though you never want your child to be born early, the fact that he was born early and was healthy made for good timing.”
Despite going into the final table as the short stack, Ausmus ultimately finished in fifth place for $2,154,616 payday. The seven-figure score prompted him to hit the road and in the year that has followed, Ausmus has won another $1 million.
His run started with a win at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $78,572 before final tabling a WSOP Asia Pacific event for another $56,865. In April, he won the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza II main event for $121,853. This summer, he finished third in a $3,000 mixed max event at the WSOP for $132,748 and then cashed in the One Drop High Rollers event for $308,622. In October, he finally added his first bracelet by winning the pot-limit Omaha event at the WSOP Europe series in France, along with another $95,978.
All told, Ausmus cashed 19 times and made eight final tables since his WSOP main event score, proving he wasn’t a one-hit wonder.
“Nowadays, I think of myself as more of a tournament player than a cash-game grinder. Since the WSOP final table, I’ve continued to do well on the circuit. I don’t really believe in hot streaks, but that’s kind of what I’m on right now, so why not keep it going. If things don’t work out, I always have the cash games to go back to.”
Ausmus has trouble putting into words what has made him successful, both in tournaments and cash games, but knows that as long as it’s working, he’s not going to mess with it. And just because his bank account is a little bigger, he won’t let it mess with his head.
“I don’t go out of my way to pick on people, but if someone’s playing too many hands and I’m sitting on their left, I’m going to do something about it,” he admitted. “Poker is full of huge egos and players are constantly fighting it out to prove that they are the most skilled player at the table, or whatever, but for the most part, I stay out of it. I just try to make the most profitable decision I can and leave all of the emotions out of it.”
After his big score, Ausmus played a handful of $400-$800 mixed-games sessions at Bellagio and Aria, but found only limited success.
“You are kind of up against it when you jump in because the games they are playing are so different from the mixed games I learned online. One of my long-term goals is to be a regular in that game and beat it, but I’m not in a rush. Right now, it’s hard to justify taking a huge shot when there isn’t a lot online poker volume to supplement my game.”
Ausmus currently represents UltimatePoker.com and has done well in both its bigger cash games and Sunday tournaments, but looks forward to the day when online poker is back in full force and he can take some time off the road.
“Traveling is hard with two kids, so I would love for online poker to come back on a large scale so I can sit at home and be with them while I’m not playing, rather than be sitting in a hotel room somewhere.” ♠
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