2007 World Series: John "texduke" Ambrust Finishes 18th

by Craig Cunningham

I met Doug Kim last year when I interviewed Jason Strasser for PokerStars blog. If you don't remember, Jason was one of the chip leaders into the money but suffered a horrific beat when his aces were cracked by A-Ks. Following Doug gave me someone to root for until the Final Table, when he went out in 7th place. Doug then went to work shortly after his Main Event experience, playing little poker as he worked long hours for a consulting firm. David Einhorn finished 18th last year in the Main Event. You probably remember him from ESPN for his sweatshirt with handprints of his family covering it. Einhorn donated his $659,730 winnings to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, an incredibly selfless act after getting down to the last two tables.

John Ambrust is hardly similar to Einhorn, the investment banker, husband, and father. John is three years out of Duke and has a girlfriend. His last job hasn't been financially lucrative, but it has been as selfless as Einhorn's action. John is a teacher with a special interest in underprivileged youth. He taught 8th grade math (what else?) in inner city Atlanta and just moved to Los Angeles, where he will be teaching 9th and 10th grade math and algebra.

Last year as a PokerStars qualifier, he was among the chipleaders heading to the cash bubble. Over a span of a couple levels, he went from a ton of chips to an exit short of the money. This year, he finished 18th for $381,302. Two hands were key to his exit.

In a limped pot, the flop came Kd-6s-8s. Tuan Lam bet 350k, and John called along with Lee Childs. Ks came on the turn, and Tuan checked. John fired out 1.5m, and Tuan called after Childs folded. The fourth spade, an ace, brought ooh's and aah's from the crowd. Tuan checked, and John fired out 3m. Tuan called pretty quickly with Js-9s, and John mucked. "It was the third bluff that didn't work out of probably a hundred," he said afterwards.

He folded for probably an orbit, then Ray Hinson and Lee Childs limped 100k from the button. John raised for another 600k, and after a couple minutes Childs made it another 1.6m. John quickly moved all-in for another 3.34m. It took several minutes, but Childs called with Ac-Qs. John flipped over As-Ks, a dominating position. It was a sick sound when Jc-7c-2c came on the flop, and when the 10c flipped over on the turn, it was the end for John Armbrust. It was a sick way to go out, but is there any other?


Armbrust waits to see if Childs will call


John and I headed to his Mexican dive that he found. He followed Jim McManus' "Positively Fifth Street" book as a guide for playing in the Main Event. He ate the same meal for lunch and dinner, wore the same basic outfit. A Bellagio cap sat on his head. He sent regular emails and text messages to his sister, who then forwarded the information through his big fan base in Austin.

He'll be playing more on PokerStars in the future and may play tournaments in Commerce. But he has a new home and a new job and a girlfriend now living in the same city as he is for the first time in their relationship. And he has new kids to connect with, to make a difference in their lives. And if he can sneak in a tournament here and there, that's adds up as well.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in