"I've always been pretty balanced" - interview with Jeremy Ausmus

We chat with WSOPE winner Jeremy Ausmus about bracelets, the November Nine and having a balanced lifestyle.

"It feels good to be respected by your peers"

//d3ltpfxjzvda6e.cloudfront.net/2013/11/14/jeremy-ausmus-wins-wsope-plobracelet.jpgPokerStrategy.com: Congrats on your bracelet at the WSOPE. You have had so many near misses at the series in the last two years, was it more of a relief than anything when you finally won?

Jeremy Ausmus: Yeah, it wasn't so much a matter of the money because it was one of the smaller events. Success in our business is measured by a bracelet for some reason. I don't know if it should be, but people put a lot of stock in bracelets and I've had a lot of close calls in the last couple of years so it obviously felt awesome to finally win one.

PokerStrategy.com: Now that you are a bracelet winner, is the best thing about it the bragging rights, rather than the money or increased marketability?

Jeremy Ausmus: That's a lot of it. It feels good to be respected by your peers when you put up good results and people see that you play well. I've worked hard over the years to get where I'm at and I think this is a direct result of the work I've put in. I think I had a decent amount of respect anyway, but this solidifies it a bit.

PokerStrategy.com: Where do you stand on what a lot of pros say that they would happily have a losing series financially if it ended with a bracelet?

Jeremy Ausmus: I would consider it a small success. If you are losing money overall that is definitely not the goal, if you keep it up for ten years, win a bracelet every year and are down a million dollars that's not going to work. Just to get the one you can sacrifice a winning series. Once you get the one I imagine each next one is less exciting.

"Nobody really knows their ROI in live tournaments"

//d3ltpfxjzvda6e.cloudfront.net/2013/11/14/jeremy-ausmus.jpgPokerStrategy.com: You cashed nine times at the 2012 series which ended with making the November Nine. This year you cashed ten times and ended with a WSOPE bracelet. Is momentum a big part of your game?

Jeremy Ausmus: I don't think I am playing that differently towards the end of the series than the start - I just have a very solid everyday game. If I'm losing a lot it doesn't affect my game; if I'm winning a lot it doesn't either.

It does give me some confidence though; before the November Nine I had cashed eight times [at the WSOP] which was a pretty big deal. Even though I wasn't winning money for the series it gave me confidence - you know you are just a coin flip away from a final table or winning one.

This year it was the same thing as in Paris I had taken off a few months. I'd traveled to LA for tournaments and played a lot of multi-entries where I bricked everything, so it was a dry spell leading up to Paris. If anything I probably lost some momentum before I rebounded. 

PokerStrategy.com: You've been a pro for nearly a decade mainly playing cash games, what prompted your more recent switch to live tournaments?

Jeremy Ausmus: Before Black Friday I was playing more tournaments and getting good results, I was starting to feel good about my tournament game. I was mainly a cash guy but I always played [MTTs] on Sundays and then Wednesdays as a bit of fun. I never thought I could make as much money playing tournaments as I could cash games. That's why I didn't travel the live circuit - I didn't want to give up my hourly cash game rate.

After Black Friday I went to play live cash,  thenwhen the series came around to break the monotony I went all out and played almost 30 tournaments. Earlier that year I went deep in a tournament in LA and got third for $190,000; it occurred to me maybe I could make more in tournaments. It's up in the air, nobody really knows their ROI in live tournaments because the sample size is low. I try and keep a healthy mix of both, but I have switched to 70% of my time in tournaments. Four years ago it was maybe 10% of my time; I kept seeing success so I kept going for it. 

"There is a fine line between confidence and playing terrible"

//d3ltpfxjzvda6e.cloudfront.net/2013/11/14/512x.jpegPokerStrategy.com: There have been a lot of November Niners who go on to find success after the final table. Did the experience make you a better player?

Jeremy Ausmus: I honestly don't think it did. I think most of the time it's just that people had fun in the tournament and have the extra money so they just decide to travel the circuit. People say all the time that when you win one or are doing well, you are just playing better and with confidence. I really don't think that follows through with me, but for some people it could be true.

There is a fine line between having confidence and playing great and playing terrible. I think it's just a product of people having extra money. This is tournament poker, it involves a decent amount of luck and some players might win something else even if they are not that great.

PokerStrategy.com: It's been more than a year since that final table, looking back do you think the four-month delay was a good thing? Or were you playing well and wanted to play on?

Jeremy Ausmus: There are pros and cons. It's fun, you do a lot of interviews and fun stuff like that, you get your name out there a little more. I don't think I'm big on momentum: people talk about it and there is something to be said about it for sure, but I just don't a lot of stock in it, I think each decision is independent of the last. I am in the minority there.

There were players at the final table that could have improved more than I could have. Also I had a baby on the way, he came early, I played the least amount of poker I ever played during the break. I didn't feel rusty but it was literally the least poker I'd played, I took four weeks off then I took four weeks off again. People like Russell Thomas were getting intense training from eight other pros, and Jesse from Vanessa Selbst (they were already great players anyway).

I think financially speaking just with the tournament I would have been better off playing it the next day, but you get stuff from sponsorships so there are two sides to the coin for sure. 

"Having a balanced life is tough when you are travelling"

//d3ltpfxjzvda6e.cloudfront.net/2013/11/14/carousel-ausmus.jpgPokerStrategy.com: Unlike many pros you have a very balanced schedule and devote a lot of time to your family. Have you always been this way or did you learn about work/life balance the hard way? 

Jeremy Ausmus: I've always been pretty balanced, it's not something I've had to work on. When I first moved out to Las Vegas I would play through the night because I thought the games were better, but I was never out of control. Now with kids it makes sense to have a schedule and structure.

As much as non-structure feels good too for a while, if you have goals you want to accomplish, even if you don't have a family, you could benefit from a schedule. Getting up at a certain time, working out - you're going to feel good. If you don't you are not mentally the best and that carries over to your life.

PokerStrategy.com: Has the fact you are travelling the circuit more been difficult to maintain that balance?

Jeremy Ausmus: That's been one of the toughest things. Before kids my wife could travel with me. If we didn't have kids we would be doing more of that. The age they are at now, they can't come, it just doesn't make sense. Maybe when they are older, they are one and three now.

So I have to leave them, my wife and kids, and none of them are happy, including myself. I wouldn't consider myself a full-time tournament pro. I have a look at the schedule and pick the best bang for my buck, where I can make the most money, so every year I pick two or three of those events outside of Vegas. 

PokerStrategy.com: Thanks very much Jeremy, keep setting that great example for professional players. 

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By Barry Carter l Barry Carter on Twitter

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