Reiner Kempe (Rainer Kempe) is one of the German high rollers that regularly makes it to the final tables of expensive tournaments. At the same time – despite friendship with the famous poker player Fyodor Holtz and active work for No Limit Gaming [прим. автора: объединения австрийско-немецких профессионалов Super High Roller с целью достижения успеха в киберспорте] – Reiner remains in the shadows, avoiding frequent communication with journalists and devoting all his free time to work.
This year, for the first time, he decided to give a big interview to the Somuch Poker portal, which we translated for you, breaking it down into thematic blocks. Under each heading, except for the first, the narration comes from the first person – this is Reiner’s direct speech. Enjoy reading!
What do we know about Reiner Kempe?
Much of Kempe’s success comes from live tournaments – from 2011 to 2020, he completed 159 ITMs with over $ 21M in prize money. Basically, he won several tens of thousands at a time, and received more than a million only twice:
In total, he has 17 victories – mainly in the expensive EPT, WPT and PCA tournaments. One of the most interesting years in Reiner’s offline career was 2018: at that time he met with the famous poker player Maria Ho and they managed to drag the $ 25K High Roller tournament together at the LAPC series and three tournaments for two at WPTDeepStacks Johannesburg.
At the same time, since the end of 2020 and on July 11, 2021, he has never issued an ITM in tournaments that are taken into account in TheHendonMob statistics.
Kempe plays online under his real name (at Natural8) and under the nickname “RadischenRainer” (at GGPoker). On July 5, 2021, as “Rainer Kempe”, he played 2,136 MTT ABI $ 825 on GGNetwork with a profit of over $ 83K. It is noteworthy that until November 2020, he played in the red, with the lowest point being $ 83K, but thanks to 4th place on $ 25K HRW Super High Roller shot up, receiving $ 288,149 in prize money.
For the second nickname, the reporting is minimal – 3 ABI $ 75 tournaments with a profit of $ 315. According to SharkScope, Reiner started playing under this nickname in April 2020, played three tournaments and dropped online before the start of the WSOP at GG, where the game was already under his real name.
The happiest time in Kempe’s career
At the start, I played a lot of Sit & Go, especially at a time when they represented a separate (and quite profitable) niche. At that time, every solution was much closer to what could be called perfection – because of this, the game was not as flexible as it could be. I think the reason was that in Sit & Go it was difficult to feel better at a distance – everyone played about the same there, there were always conditionally 4 good players who made similar decisions, and 1-2 weak ones. And when I switched to live tournaments, I realized that there is not only a game where you spend a lot of time learning and mathematically balanced decisions, but also space for more flexibility.
A complete epiphany came to me in 2015 – I finally learned to fully adapt to my opponents and change my style, so 2015 and 2016 were definitely the happiest ones for me. Then I had some good results in Maine and I started playing high roller tournaments. I was finally able to afford to play in any chosen tournament without thinking about the buy-in. Super-unique situation – usually you look at the schedule and cut off some of the attractive events because of the cost of entry. Getting rid of this allowed me to expand my plans and start traveling more. I really enjoyed the state of affairs then – the lifestyle and freedom that I had for several years.
It was at that time that I won one of the biggest Super High Roller Bowl tournaments in 2016, where I ended up in heads-up with my friend Fyodor Holtz. He persuaded me to play in the event, explaining how funny it would be to stay in such a tournament together in the end. We played for 4 days – very long in my feeling, because they were widely covered by the media – all the events were broadcast live and each of our actions was under the constant supervision of hundreds or even thousands of pairs of eyes. That tournament was one of the first super high rollers of my career and the first for $ 300K. But, to be honest, at that moment I didn’t really realize how serious it was. The beginning of summer in Las Vegas, poker tournaments are held literally every day, and the game was on the eve of the start of the WSOP, which interested me much more. So I didn’t even enjoy what was happening then as much as I would now. However, heads-up with Fedor was amazing, so I don’t regret how it happened – our duel remains one of my favorite moments in poker.
What Reiner Thinks About The Secret Super High Roller Club
This is not exactly a “secret club”, but the atmosphere there is still completely different from other tournaments. There is no late registration, but there is a dress code – at least for the first SHR, cameras are everywhere. Participants come long before the start and conduct small talk, shake hands. You really have to shake hands with your opponents at the table – there is no such manner in other tournaments. Plus, this type of event comes with tremendous broadcast pressures. You know that people are watching, they will judge you for a bad decision and approve of a good one, and if you add to this the sums for which we usually fight, the situation turns out to be very difficult. Perhaps you are not at all used to playing for millions – but people do not know this, but they see all your actions. This greatly affects both your well-being and how you are perceived in the community.
But there are also advantages here. For example, the economy is much healthier than in regular tournaments, because people who lose money in very expensive games are different from the rest. For example, no one here buys in $ 50K if that’s their last money, while in $ 500 tournaments, people do that very often. Here, too, a lot depends on the amateur players – if they leave, then the tournaments will simply cease to be held, but, fortunately, the games are very exciting, due to which the amateurs continue to come. And I think there are much fewer people like that at low stakes.
As for how you can attract newbies and recreational players, I have no clear opinion. For example, I love watching the best players compete for huge amounts of money, but it really isn’t that exciting because they have very similar play styles, similar views, and are focused and don’t communicate much. Because of this, there are so few good TV moments. For a tournament scenario to be thrilling, it has to have glitches, drama, ambiguity – something that almost never happens on SHR. And all because of the pressure. People who have a hard time taking it, but could give this type of spectacle, are highly likely not to make it to SHR.
Poker training and superiority of German high rollers
I never prepare specifically for a certain tournament, because I believe that you need to constantly work on the game and try to become a good player in general, and not just take up training on some occasion. Before major significant events, you should pay special attention to getting there in the best condition – to have a good sleep and rest, to be healthy and in normal physical shape, to fully prepare mentally and mentally. I have no secret – the quality of your play in any tournament depends only on what brings you closer to your ideal state.
Regular training changes along with changes in the industry and the development of specific tools. Personally, it is always important for me to surround myself with people who are highly motivated and strive for their goal. Regardless of what I studied – Sit & Go, PLO, HU – I was always helped by an environment in which there were people with motivation close to me, but different skills, who were not afraid to share their experiences and thoughts, while treating me with attention and respect. … So my advice to anyone looking to succeed and grow in poker is to connect with a good group of productive people who maintain a quality work ethic.
A few years ago, the main stars in poker were Scandinavian players, and now more and more Germans are crushing the glades. We were fortunate that at a certain time our talented players, corresponding to what I said earlier, got into the right conditions and German poker flourished. Plus, we had a good poker school that gave people $ 50 bankroll, basic strategies, and rakeback. In such a nutrient medium, the players had no choice but to grow. In addition, many were successful in selling action because there was a high demand for the purchase, which helped people get into expensive tournaments faster, paying for buy-ins collectively. Fabian Quoss, Marvin Rettenmeier, Fedor Holtz and other regulars made a big contribution to this, who became popular, attracted many new players and still help some of them to develop in poker.
Kemp on lockdown and plans for the future
The past year has been strange for many, and I am no exception. The live tournaments that I have been earning for almost 6 years have stopped just in time for me. I was ready to quit poker at least for a while, because the endless loop of games became tiresome for me. The situations began to repeat themselves, the feeling of novelty from the tournaments faded away. Playing high roller tournaments sounds exciting, but in fact you do the same thing all the time, in the same casinos, most often with the same people. This is hardly how you can characterize the life that you want to live. At the same time, it is very difficult to get away from this, so the lockdown really helped me. Plus, I’ve found it very cool to play tournaments online. I understand that for many people the situation has become much worse, thousands have suffered, but for me the year was easy. I love spending time at my home in the UK and is outside Las Vegas for the first time in 10 years.
It’s been a year and a half now, and only recently did I feel that I want to go on a trip again, but not earlier than autumn – at the WSOP. In the summer, I definitely won’t go anywhere – Europe is beautiful at this time of year and I want to be here. Plus, I played a lot more hands last year than in the previous 5 years combined, and my attitude towards poker has changed. I’m not sure if I can go back to the old format now.
Plus, poker sites saw the difference between online and offline traffic, and they drew conclusions by launching many expensive series. But I’m not sure if this is a good idea. During the lockdown, many countries began to leave the gambling market, limiting or completely banning poker as well – many rooms lost about $ 400K of previously received rake, which will still give a response in the future. Having a consistent market would help, but poker doesn’t work that way. Therefore, for now, we are enjoying the moment and awaiting the end.
The duels we see now among the regulars can help expand the poker market. I really liked the heads-up between Holz and Malinowski, although I couldn’t go through this myself – you have to be either aggressive or “loud” on social networks to get action from someone who surpasses you in heads-up, and I not capable of this. But I love the idea of a personal fight between professional players, where they dive headlong and fight for large sums.