Jeremy Ausmus: Poker's Nice Guy, Finishing First

Jeremy Ausmus: Poker’s Nice Guy, Finishing First

Jeremy Ausmus 2022

Jeremy Ausmus committed to life as a professional poker player 17 years ago, making the move to Las Vegas to follow his dream in 2005. The majority of the intervening time was spent as a cash game specialist, whose dalliances in the tournament scene resulted in a few major paydays, including the $2.1 million score he secured as the fifth-place finisher in the 2012 World Series of Poker main event.

The 42-year-old married father of two has since shifted his focus to the local Las Vegas tournament scene in recent years and has been quite successful doing so. 2019 saw him place 17th in the year-end Card Player Player of the Year standings. He backed that up with a 26th-place showing in 2021, after the live tournament scene was shut down for the vast majority of 2020.

Ausmus’ post-shutdown success mostly came in the final few months of last year, with six final-table finishes and three titles won in the final quarter. Those victories included two of Ausmus’ three career WSOP gold bracelets.

While the first of those wins came in a smaller $1,000 turbo event at the start of the series for just shy of $49,000, the second saw him emerge from a three-handed showdown with Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu in the $50,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event to secure the second-largest payday of his career worth $1,188,918.

Ausmus’ strong form has continued into the early months of 2022. From the start of last September through the end of March, he has cashed for more than $3.4 million dollars across 33 in-the-money finishes, bringing his lifetime total to more than $11.9 million.

Jeremy Ausmus wins the PokerGO Cup Player of the SeriesAusmus locked up $824,500 in earnings during the PokerGO Cup high roller series alone. He made the final table in half of the eight events in that high-stakes festival, with two third-place showings, a runner-up finish, and a title. As a result, he was crowned the player of the series and earned $50,000 in added prize money along with the massive trophy.

March saw Ausmus add another six cashes to his 2022 tally, with five final-table finishes and a win in one of the U.S. Poker Open no-limit hold’em events. He now has 12 total POY-qualified final-table finishes so far in 2022, with more than $1.4 million in earnings across those scores. As a result, he is the current leader in this year’s POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.

Card Player caught up with Ausmus shortly after he was crowned the PokerGO Cup champion back in February to discuss his ongoing hot streak, his love for pot-limit Omaha, beating Hellmuth and Negreanu for the gold, and more.

Erik Fast: Can you tell me how the live poker shutdown of 2020 impacted you?

Jeremy Ausmus: During the pandemic, I studied a lot and played a ton online, but I also did a lot of outside-of-poker things. We took a few trips with friends and family and got out to a cabin. We were able to be cut off from everyone and get a change of scenery. It becomes pretty monotonous when you never leave the house. It’s not like I go to work every day anyway, so I’m at home a lot in the first place. It was kind of a nice change of pace, but I missed live poker for sure.

I was playing more mixed games when it came to live cash before the pandemic. After things reopened, I went and played a couple of times, but I just didn’t have the desire. There are not a lot of live games unless you finagle your way into some of these games or start your own, because everything’s private now in all the mid and high-stakes games. So, I don’t even really try anymore. I just didn’t play a lot until the tournaments came back. And when they did, I was really excited to get back to it.

EF: You closed out the end of 2021 on a heater. Do you have any thoughts about why you had such a strong finish to the year?

JA: I think it was just that I was kind of due, or, variance. It’s not like I had huge breakthroughs in my poker game. Honestly, the first half of last year I got completely crushed. I was focused on the local high roller scene and I’d really gotten smashed. I was having the worst year I’ve ever had going into the WSOP.

Since then, it’s really flipped around, and it started with pot-limit Omaha. I just did really well in all the PLO events at the series, with a win in the $50,000 buy-in, a fifth in the $10,000 buy-in, and a 14th-place finish in the $25,000 buy-in.

I started the series with a win in a charity no-limit event, but I kind of overlooked that because it was such a small payday. It was a $1,000 buy-in turbo. I joked about it, and even tweeted that I won the first bracelet of the series and I was stuck the very next day.

Jeremy Ausmus Wins 2021 WSOP Event 2 wide (1)

There’s a lot of volatility in these tournaments, especially these small field high rollers. They’re kind of shallow stacked; you can re-enter late with just 20 big blinds and the competition’s tough and it’s aggressive.

EF: Can you talk a little bit about how poker is unique, in that it’s not always obvious to outsiders how a player is actually performing?

JA: In my case, a lot of people said, ‘Wow, you won a bracelet, you’re having a great year.’ But I was having my worst year, even after winning that event. I had a $50,000 blip up, but the next day it was back down, and I was at the worst point in my year.

Even when you do have a good year, it’s never as good as it seems. I’ve cashed for a lot this year and am having a great year, don’t get me wrong, but people don’t think about all the buy-ins you’ve paid.

In the last high roller series I played alone, I wasn’t rebuying very much and I still paid maybe $200,000 in buy-ins. That number could easily get inflated to $300,000 or $400,000 or more. So even if you cash for $900,000 in a series, sure it’s still great, but it’s easy to just brick the next 30 tournaments and not be doing as great as it may seem to others.

EF: Do the bracelets matter to you, or is it all about the money?

Ausmus after securing his third braceletJA: Yeah, it does matter to me a little bit. It’s cool to have three, it’d be cool to have six, but I don’t think it is necessarily the measure of the best players. And I think for a lot of the top players, they realize that this is really just a series of tournaments. The WSOP has the brand and the name that’s been around forever, but it’s kind of silly that I won a turbo for $49,000 and that’s going to be marked down as me now having three bracelets.

Yet, a lot of people do look at the bracelets and that’s all they care about. I think that’s going to change a little bit, with the PokerGO Tour. The high-stakes players are playing tons of high rollers a year, so something like winning one of those series or the PGT Player of the Year is pretty cool because you’re facing the toughest competition.

EF: You closed out the series with the second-biggest tournament score of your career of nearly $1.2 million, beating Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu three-handed for the title. Can you tell me about that experience?

JA: In the heat of the moment, I don’t get enamored by much, impressed by much, or excited about much. I stayed very focused and down to earth during all that. But looking back, even just the next day, I could recognize what a big deal that win was.

I will probably look back at that tournament as one of the coolest, most fun experiences I’ve ever had at a poker table. I had a lot of people reach out to me to say that it was one of the most entertaining final tables they’d ever watched. It’s the WSOP, and it’s two guys whose passion for the game has never waned, even after all these years. They’ve each made plenty of money and don’t even need to be there… a lot of guys move on, but they love it. They want to win so badly, and that’s cool to see. I think we need people like that.

How many people are going to say they beat Hellmuth heads-up for a bracelet? The first time I played with those guys, like 15 years ago or so, it was a big deal. I was like, ‘Wow, I used to watch these guys on TV.’ But I’ve worked on my game for so long, I’ve had success in multiple arenas, online, cash games, live tournaments, and I’ve played with them a lot by now.

It’s funny because old college friends who don’t really know poker reached out and were like, ‘I can’t believe you beat these guys.’ They’re great players, but I am, too. I’m here competing on the level field with them, and I like my spot. I feel really good about my tournament game, better than ever.

Ausmus and Hellmuth Heads Up WIDE

EF: Ali Imsirovic won the 2021 POY award with almost all of his scores coming in Vegas. Does that make it more likely that you might go for the POY title, now that you’re among the top contenders so far?

JA: A little. Ali is a special case. That guy is young, he doesn’t have children, he loves the game. He’s great, and he doesn’t miss a thing. It’s wild. Most of it was in Vegas last year, but I know I’m not going to be on the grind like he is.

I’m not going to be playing the volume that Ali plays. I have soccer games on Saturdays, volleyball, and I have other obligations that are important to me. But I’ll be playing a lot, and if I am up there in the top five down the stretch, I’ll probably make some extra efforts to try to win some of these POY titles.

You used to have to travel nonstop if you wanted to have any shot at any of those things. I was never that guy because I’ve had a family for a long time, so I would just take a few trips. But to have everything right here in Vegas is just a dream for me.

EF: How did it feel to win the PokerGO Cup?

JA: It was really amazing and, compared to other times I’ve won single events, it felt really different to be the ‘Player of the Series.’ And I got this trophy and it’s a legit trophy. I’ve never had one like this, the thing weighs about 30 pounds. It’s a nice touch, and it just makes winning it that much cooler.

EF: What’s your outlook for your poker career moving forward?

JA: I was pretty bearish on poker a few years ago. When the bigger games all started going private, I just thought I might be doing something else soon, which is unfortunate because I do love poker.

But there have been a few good things that have happened since then. One is that some companies are doing good things in poker. GG Poker is doing a lot of good things. The PokerGO Tour is doing amazing things, putting players first and showcasing the best players while creating a good product for people to watch.

And then, another thing is online poker finally reopening a little bit throughout the US, which I think can be very good for the game. It’s even good right now, with the small player pool we have currently [in the legal states]. There are not a lot of games or too big games, but I think if we add a few more states, we can all join together, and maybe they can start running satellites to a lot of big live events.

So, I feel pretty good about poker. The tournaments seem as good or better than ever. If you just look at numbers, the numbers are good. I feel pretty good about the coming years. It’s hard to look past five years down the road and I’ve always been like that in poker. I’ve always wondered, how long will this last? How long can I do this for? But as long as there are games I can play in and win, I think I’ll keep playing. Spade Suit