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Three-Time Bracelet Winner Jeremy Ausmus Talks Turbo Tournaments

by Bernard Lee |  Published: Dec 29, 2021

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The 2021 World Series of Poker has come to an end, and by all accounts it was a tremendous success after a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 88 bracelets were awarded live at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, while 11 were awarded online during the nearly eight-week series.

Over the next several columns, I will be interviewing 2021 WSOP bracelet winners. These champions will provide observations, tips, and strategies for you, the readers of Card Player, about the specific poker game in which they captured their 2021 bracelet.

The Event: $1,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold’em (COVID-19 Relief Charity Tournament)

The Winner: Jeremy Ausmus

The Colorado native outlasted a field of 260 entries, taking home $48,687 and his second career bracelet in an event that withheld $100 from each buy-in for charity. The no-limit hold’em tournament was unique in that it featured just 20-minute levels. As a result, only five players survived the first day, and the second and final day lasted less than two hours.

Ausmus is no stranger to the WSOP main stage, having finished fifth in the 2012 main event for more than $2.15 million. He won his first gold bracelet the next year, taking down the €1,650 pot-limit Omaha event at the WSOP Europe series.

I spoke with Jeremy after his October victory to get some of his thoughts about playing in no-limit hold’em turbo events.

Bernard: Congrats on your second bracelet. What a great way to kick of the 2021 WSOP.

Jeremy: Absolutely. Always good to win the first one. Like when you are in a cash game and you run it twice, it is always good to win the first one.

Bernard: Since your bracelet win was in the COVID-19 Relief No-Limit Hold’em Charity Event, let’s talk about how to play turbo events. First, when you start playing in a turbo event, do you change your strategy during the early levels?

Jeremy: No, not really. During the early levels of a turbo, I play like a normal tournament. It may change later on, but from the beginning, I try to make the best decision possible for every hand. I sometimes see other players changing up their strategy by pressing hard early because it is a turbo event. Now, sometimes that strategy works, but these players are also often taking unnecessary risks early in the tournament. For me, I like to keep my normal strategy early on.

Bernard: Why does the strategy change later on in turbo events?

Jeremy: Turbo events are the complete opposite of the WSOP main event, for example, which has a deep stack and slow structure. Turbos have shallow stacks with fast structure. So, turbo events lead to much more volatility with their shorter average stacks. The most important thing is playing not only the short stack well, but also against the short stacks well. You really need to understand the ranges that you have to shove with, and also what ranges to call with.

Bernard: As play continues, what are your thoughts as the money bubble approaches?

Jeremy: A lot depends on your stack size. If you have a big stack, you should be playing a lot of hands. Remember, since it is a turbo, the blinds and antes will increase faster than a regular tournament. So, it is not uncommon on the money bubble to have the average stack under 10 big blinds. Seeing super short stacks with four, three, or even two big blinds is not surprising.

Then, the big stack can put tons of pressure on the medium and small stacks. If there are short and medium stacks [left to act], the big stack can raise and even just open shove because the ICM pressure will be huge. Overall, a big stack should play very aggressively on the bubble and continue to build his/her stack.

As a short stack, if you are trying to get into the money, you need to be fully aware of the other stacks, especially if they are shorter than you. Unfortunately, if you just hold on, you will be hamstrung after the bubble breaks, but at least you made the money.

Bernard: After the bubble burst, short stacks will all start moving in since they have now made the money. If you are a short stack, what would you recommend? If you have a decent stack, how do you determine the range to call with?

Jeremy: Well, if you are a short stack, you have to pick a hand and go for it. You will have very little fold equity and someone will probably look you up.

However, if you have a decent stack, you want to play as profitably as possible. Sometimes that could mean possibly making a call with a hand that may be slightly worse but plays well versus a wide range of hands. Since it is a turbo and time is running short, you sometimes may have to gamble and hope your hand wins.

Bernard: As you reach the final table, what are your thoughts/strategies?

Jeremy: Well, the final table plays like an amplified money bubble with the average stack often near 10 big blinds. While everyone is guaranteed to cash, the pay jumps are significant. So, once again, it is very dependent on your stack size.

The medium and smaller stacks need to tighten up their ranges in order to hopefully ladder up. Everyone should be playing pretty tight except the shortest stack since they are probably the first one out. Since the ICM implications are huge, you need to fully understand how to manage a short stack and the ranges that you have to shove with.

As for a big stack, your role is to maximize ICM pressure, and this can be done by open shoving versus the medium and short stacks. Overall, since everyone else is playing really tight, the chip leader can often just crush everybody.

Bernard: As a poker pro for almost 20 years, you have played in a wide range of buy-ins from the low stakes such as $500 all the way up to $100,000 high rollers. Is there something you can reveal that most recreational poker players don’t realize?

Jeremy: People love to focus on the wins and don’t think about the non-cashes that happen before and after. For example, this event that I won, I took home a little over $48,000, which was one of the smallest prize pools for a WSOP bracelet ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that I won, but the next day I played in the $25,000 and fired two bullets. Then I played the Reunion event (he cashed in that event for $1,262) and the $5,000 online. So, after a few days of the WSOP, I win a bracelet and I’m already losing. That’s actually pretty hard to do. I think I need to try to win the big ones, not the little ones. (Ausmus laughs)

The Finish: After earning his second bracelet in the $1,000 turbo event, Ausmus finished off his summer by also winning the $50,000 pot-limit Omaha high roller event for another $1.18 million. Overall, he cashed nine times during the series for a total of $1.48 million, making three final tables with two wins. It was enough to see him finish fifth in the series POY race. The 42-year-old now has more than $10 million in career tournament earnings. ♠

Bernard LeeBernard Lee broke into the poker world after a deep run in the 2005 WSOP main event. He has two WSOP Circuit rings, and is an author, having written for Card Player, the Boston Herald, Metrowest Daily News, and ESPN, where he was a host of the show The Inside Deal. His radio show and podcast, The Bernard Lee Poker Show, recently celebrated its 14th anniversary, and his latest book, Poker Satellite Success: Turn Affordable Buy-Ins Into Shots At Winning Millions, is now available on Amazon as well as D&B Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @BernardLeePoker or visit his website at BernardLeePoker.com or YouTube channel at Youtube.com/BernardLeePoker.