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October 23, 2014

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Short-stacked local pro at World Series of Poker final table plays cards his own way

Jeremy Ausmus says pressure is off of him before Monday’s world championship

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Steve Marcus

Members of the October Nine pose after making the final table in the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold’Em main event at the Rio Tuesday, July 17, 2012. From left are: RussellThomas, Jacob Balsiger, Jeremy Ausmus, Steven Gee, Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia, Robert Salaburu, Andras Koroknai and Michael Esposito. All the players are from the United States except Koroknai who is from Hungary. STEVE MARCUS

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Jeremy Ausmus, a member of the October Nine, after making the final table in the World Series of Poker's $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold'em main event at the Rio Monday, July 17, 2012.

WSOP's October Nine

Members of the October Nine reach for the championship bracelet held by Jack Effel, World Series of Poker tournament director, after making the final table in the World Series of Poker's $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold'em main event at the Rio Monday, July 17, 2012. From left are: Russell Thomas, Jacob Balsiger, Jeremy Ausmus, Steven Gee, Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia, Robert Salaburu, Andras Koroknai and Michael Esposito. All the players are from the United States except Koroknai who is from Hungary. Launch slideshow »

Final table chip counts

  • Jesse Sylvia — 43,875,000
  • Andras Koroknai — 29,375,000
  • Greg Merson — 28,725,000
  • Russell Thomas — 24,800,000
  • Steven Gee — 16,860,000
  • Michael Esposito — 16,200,000
  • Robert Salaburu — 15,155,000
  • Jacob Balsiger — 13,155,000
  • Jeremy Ausmus — 9,805,000

2012 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts

  • 1st — $8,531,853
  • 2nd — $5,295,149
  • 3rd — $3,799,073
  • 4th — $2,851,537
  • 5th — $2,155,313
  • 6th — $1,640,902
  • 7th — $1,258,040
  • 8th — $971,360
  • 9th — $754,798

World Series of Poker final table member Jeremy Ausmus doesn't fit the stereotype of most young professional poker players.

Traveling around the world to compete in the most prestigious tournaments year-round isn’t Ausmus’ definition of an ideal career. The Las Vegas resident would rather put in 30 to 40 hours per week grinding through cash games at Bellagio.

Hitting the clubs all night after long card sessions does nothing for Ausmus. Rather, he looks forward to driving home and spending time with his growing family.

Preparing exhaustively with coaches and an endless string of tournament simulations wasn’t how Ausmus spent the three months leading up to Monday’s WSOP final table, which begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater. Despite having the fewest chips at the table, the 33-year-old resisted stressing out too much about his shot at the first-place prize of $8,531,853.

“I’ve played the least amount of poker I’ve ever played in my life, actually,” Ausmus said. “I’ve played less poker than everyone else at the table.”

Part of that approach was by design, but most of it was out of necessity. Ausmus’ wife, Adria, was due to give birth to the couple’s second child the same week as the final table.

Instead, her pregnancy was put on high-risk and Kai Ausmus was born five-and-a-half weeks early. The doctors instructed Adria to rest, so Jeremy stayed home to care for his baby and his 2-year-old daughter, Calia.

The only thing he had planned was a trip to Cannes, France, to play in the World Series of Poker Europe. Canceling those arrangements wasn’t too bothersome.

Unlike many of his peers, Ausmus has a priority above his career.

"I like the change and getting a little bit of time away from poker,” Ausmus said. “I’m a full-time pro but I have a life away from it, which a lot of these guys don’t have.”

Players entering the final table with the fewest chips, unsurprisingly, don’t have a great history at the World Series of Poker. Since the Main Event switched to its current format with a three-month delay before the last round in 2008, the short stack has finished no better than seventh place.

Two of the last three players with the least amount of chips exited in ninth. Combined with his recent time away from cards, factors seem to add up against Ausmus making a run at the world championship.

But he points out that he has more chips than most players who start in ninth, with 30 big blinds. Ausmus is also one of the more respected players at the table, as chip leader Jesse Sylvia mentioned him second when asked who was his biggest remaining competition.

“I feel like I have less pressure than anyone else because I’m expected to go out first,” Ausmus said. “The chip leader is going to have a ton of pressure because everyone is expecting him to win and he can’t make a huge mistake. I can’t make a mistake either, but I’m really comfortable with this stack size.”

It helps that Ausmus became a short-stack cash game specialist online for a few years before the Department of Justice shut down the largest Internet card rooms in April 2011.

That could give him a major advantage. Of course, like everyone else left in the field, Ausmus has thought about the cash jumps and dreams about making it to Tuesday night with two other finalists.

The top three players are guaranteed at least $3,799,073. But unless Ausmus wins the championship, which would mean he inherits the role as poker’s worldwide ambassador, he doesn’t anticipate his lifestyle changing.

“Anything below winning, I’ll probably invest most of the money and add quite a bit to my bankroll,” Ausmus said. “I might travel a little bit, but I want to stay close to my family. I like to be a hard-working poker player, so I’ll probably be back to the cash game grind unless I hit it really big.”

Most of the other players left have vastly different ideas for how they will use the money. Ausmus’ dissenting feeling comes as no shock.

“A lot of guys want to chase the rankings and the notoriety,” Ausmus said. “They live, eat and breathe poker. They talk about poker with the best players in the world and those are the guys you see being talked about. I love playing poker, but I don’t really get any of that. I just work on the game in my own way.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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