Darren Bent's double sealed Charlton's first Premiership points of the season in a tale of two penalties and two red cards against Bolton at The Valley.
Bent kept a cool head from the spot
Charlton were reduced to 10 men when Hermann Hreidarsson was sent off for elbowing Kevin Davies.
Bolton's El Hadji Diouf missed a penalty after he was brought down but Bent made no mistake at the other end.
Davies was then sent off for elbowing Amady Faye, and Bent sealed the points with a cool finish.
Bolton's club-record £8m signing Nicolas Anelka watched moodily from the stands as his move from Fenerbahce was not competed in time to play.
He saw Diouf blaze the game's first chance into orbit after Stelios Giannakopoulis opened Charlton up down the right and picked the Senegal striker out at the far post.
Giannakopoulos wasted a golden chance to put Bolton ahead after Davies sent him clear. The Greek midfielder opted to check back inside Talal El Karkouri and as he tried to round keeper Scott Carson, Bryan Hughes got back to clear.
Charlton should have scored their first goal of the season from open play when Ambrose latched on to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's reverse pass.
Jussi Jaaskelainen spread himself to save and the ball broke for Bent who placed his shot too close to Abdoulaye Meite who cleared off the line and when it came back for Ambrose to stick into the net, he was ruled offside.
The catalogue of missed chances thickened as Giannakopoulos headed wide from six yards out but Charlton were reduced to 10 men after 29 minutes.
Referee Mike Dean had penalised Bolton striker Davies three times for leading with his arm when jumping, but he showed Hreidarsson a straight red when he caught Davies with his elbow.
Hreidarsson gets his marching orders
Charlton created few chances with a full complement and their enforced re-shuffle saw boss Iain Dowie sacrifice the width offered by Ambrose for Radostin Kishishev's defensive qualities.
El Karkouri powered a header over the bar from Andy Reid's well-flighted free-kick at the start of the second half and a set piece seemed Charlton's best way of prising Bolton open.
Within the space of 10 minutes the game became a tale of two penalties.
Bolton were awarded a spot-kick when Faye clipped Diouf, who had got goal-side of him.
Faye was the last defender but escaped with a yellow card and his relief turned to joy when Carson read Diouf's intentions and plunged low to his right to save his penalty.
Charlton then won a penalty when Tal Ben Haim tugged Bent back by his shirt. The Israeli too escaped with a caution, but Bent made no mistake from the spot.
Davies had lived by the sword all afternoon and eventually perished by it as he caught Faye with his elbow and was dismissed.
Bent sealed the points five minutes from time when he latched on to Hasselbaink's flick and his first touch took round him Jaaskelainen to slot home.
Charlton manager Iain Dowie on Hermann Hreidarsson's dismissal:
"In the light of the incident with Ben Thatcher, perhaps it was in sharper focus.
"But was he looking at Kevin Davies when he caught him? No. Was there any malice in what he did? No.
"Was he smashed in the face by an elbow himself earlier on? Yes he was."
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce:
"Kevin Davies was sent off because he had already sent Hreidarsson off.
"I think Hreidarsson's elbow on Kevin was deliberate, but there was no intention when Kevin caught Amady Faye.
"But I think the referee decided he needed to even things up."
Charlton: Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Traore, Ambrose (Kishishev 37), Hughes, Faye, Reid (Marcus Bent 89), Hasselbaink (Holland 89), Darren Bent.
Subs Not Used: Myhre, Rommedahl.
Sent Off: Hreidarsson (28).
Goals: Darren Bent 65 pen, 85.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Pedersen (Faye 78), Ben Haim, Meite, Hunt (Tal 75), Campo, Giannakopoulos (Vaz Te 68), Nolan, Speed, Diouf, Davies.
Subs Not Used: Walker, Smith.
Sent Off: Davies (72).
Booked: Diouf, Giannakopoulos, Ben Haim, Nolan.
Ref: M Dean (Wirral).