For Ausmus, 2012 will be pretty hard to top

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For a film that got mixed reviews and mediocre box office when it hit screens in 1998, Rounders certainly has had a lasting effect, as more than a few current pros mention the film’s influence on them.

Jeremy Ausmus barely was out of high school when the movie hit theaters, and it would be a few more years before he got into playing poker regularly, but it had a profound effect on him. Born and raised in tiny Lamar, Colo., Ausmus always had been fascinated by games and associated strategies. His grandfather taught him chess when Ausmus was a child, and like many of his generation, he admits having been “addicted” to Nintendo.

Let’s take a moment to note the most recent fruits of that addiction: Ausmus finished fifth in the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event, taking home more than $2.1 million, despite reaching the final table as the short stack. Ausmus said he felt “remarkably calm” all the way through, never feeling particularly under pressure as he advanced.

While little can compare to placing so highly in one of poker’s greatest events — the legendary $10,000 no-limit hold’em tournament attracted 6,598 entrants this time — Ausmus had more to celebrate in 2012.

Enjoying an incredible run even before the big game, Ausmus ultimately cashed in nine WSOP events. To cap it all off, his wife gave birth to a boy. (They also have a 2-year-old daughter.) Said Ausmus: “I’ve been blessed with several great years, but this one probably takes the cake.”

Ausmus, 33, has been a professional player living in Las Vegas for the past seven years. He started playing in 2002 and quickly became infatuated. It’s been his sole income since 2004, when he began his final year at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

He largely developed his game playing in Fort Collins cardrooms, with occasional visits to Black Hawk. When he graduated from CSU, Ausmus had a $6,500 bankroll built mostly from playing Omaha/8.

While acknowledging that’s not much of a stake to work with, Ausmus said, “I figured if I was going to try to play poker for a living in Vegas, this was the ideal time. So I moved out here and started playing $2-$5 no-limit.”

Ausmus soon moved to $5-$10 NLHE as his main game, but by 2007, he was finding a lot of success playing online. So after moving to Vegas to become a pro, he made most of his revenue over the Internet — until Black Friday.

As for the main event, Ausmus played in the past several, though 2012 was the first time he cashed, coming close several times.
He said there’s no big secret to his incredible run in 2012: “I think I’m constantly learning and getting better at poker, so this year I was better than last year and so on. I think the main reason I keep getting more successful is I keep working hard at it.”

For a guy with so much tournament success in 2012 (he also finished first in a 270-player NLHE tourney Nov. 30 at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic), Ausmus still prefers cash games.

“It’s hard to travel and play all the tourneys with a young family,” he said. “I’ve really never been attracted to that route anyway, which is why I’m a cash player, I guess.”

— Rick Gershman is Ante Up’s Colorado Ambassador. You can email him atrickgershman@gmail.com.