German-born Rainer Kempe stands among the world’s best high stakes poker tournament players. He emerged as one of an elite class of German players that rose to the top of the game in the mid-2010s.
Kempe strikes a ubiquitous presence on the modern-day high-roller tournament scene. He’s also involved in a relationship with poker pro Maria Ho, forming one half of one of poker’s power couples.
Let’s take a look at the rise to prominence and career accomplishments of Rainer Kempe:
Rainer Kempe’s Tournament Results and Biggest Cashes
As of January 2021, Rainer Kempe’s career poker tournament earnings total $21,782,558. Kempe’s five biggest tournament scores include:
- 2016 Super High Roller Bowl $300,000 No-Limit Hold’em (1st – $5,000,000)
- 2018 Super High Roller Bowl China HK$2,000,000 No-Limit Hold’em (1st – $2,040,533)
- 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em (1st – $908,100)
- 2015 EPT Prague €25,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em 8-Handed (1st – $591,722)
- 2019 Aussie Millions A$25,000 Challenge #9 (1st – $590,814)
Take a look at Kempe’s entire history of tournament poker results at his Hendon Mob page.
Rainer Kempe’s Memorable Hands
The following hand plays out in a setting that’s about as high-stakes as it gets in the realm of tournament poker. Kempe and Fedor Holz went heads-up for the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl $300,000 No-Limit Hold’em title, as the two German poker superstars were the last two remaining of 49 entrants:
Kempe goes over the hand with PokerGO’s Remko Rinkema in this clip from Rinkema’s Run It Back with Remko show. With the blinds at 50,000/100,000, Kempe starts the hand with a 250,000 open on the button with K♦ 9♦. Holz calls with A♠ 8♥.
The flop falls 6♦ 9♠ T♠, Holz checks, Kempe bets 325,000, and Holz calls. The turn brings in trip nines for Kempe, with the 9♥ coming out on the board.
Holz leads out for 375,000, and Kempe calls but says that was a mistake in his post-hand commentary with Rinkema. The river comes 7♥, completing a straight for Holz and rendering Kempe’s hand second-best.
Holz checks, Kempe bets quarter pot for 450,000, and Holz puts in a check-raise to 1.8 million. Kempe doesn’t take much time before folding, and the pot goes to Holz.
While Holz picked up a chunk of chips in this hand, the tournament turned out just fine for Kempe. Kempe went on to win the Super High Roller Bowl for $5 million, still his career-high tournament score.
Putting Adrian Mateos to the Test
The next hand we’ll look at featuring Kempe takes place at the 2018 partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona:
With the blinds at 250,000/500,000, Kempe raises to 1.1 million on the button with K♦ 6♦. Adrian Mateos defends his big blind with K♥ 5♣.
The flop comes 3♠ 7♦ 5♥, and both players check. The turn comes K♠, bringing in two pair for Mateos against the top pair of Kempe. Mateos checks, Kempe bets 1.9 million, and Mateos check-raises to 5.7 million. Kempe calls, and in this video, the commentators from the Poker Guys YouTube channel go into some discussion on what’s happened in the hand so far.
The hand resumes at 4:55 in the video, and the 7♣ hits on fifth street. This counterfeits Mateos’ two pair and gives Kempe the superior kicker.
Mateos checks and Kempe goes all in for his remaining 10,575,000. Mateos thinks it over for a bit, then folds. Was this river shove from Kempe a value bet or a bluff?
Rainer Kempe’s Rapid Rise to High Stakes Success
Kempe was born in Berlin, Germany, in July 1989. He started winning small tournament scores in his early 20s, with a breakthrough win coming at the 2015 EPT Barcelona.
Kempe finished fifth in the EPT Barcelona €5,000 Main Event that year, coming away with a €320,400 payday ($364,716). The then-26-year-old earned three more six-figure scores before the end of 2015.
The biggest of those marked the first of several eventual major wins for Kempe. He won the €25,000 the No-Limit Hold’em High Roller at the 2015 EPT Prague, earning his biggest score to date with a €539,000 payout ($591,722).
Kempe’s big tournament scores escalated in 2016, with his $5 million Super High Roller Bowl win coming in May of that year. Kempe was a fixture on the world’s high roller tournament scene by that time and was one of a group of German high stakes grinders that rose to poker’s elite class in the mid-2010s.
Another massive score for Kempe came at the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl China. He finished third in the HK$2,000,000 No-Limit Hold’em event, taking away a $2,040,533 payday.
Personal Life and Relationship With Maria Ho
Kempe now resides in Brighton, England, and studied at the University of Potsdam and the University of Sussex in Falmer, England. His last live tournament cash came at the partypoker MILLIONS South America festival in February 2020, just before COVID-19 caused the live high-stakes tournament scene to go on indefinite hiatus.
Kempe and fellow poker pro Maria Ho form one of poker’s most prominent power couples. Kempe and Ho both won $25,000 High Roller events at the 2019 L.A. Poker Classic.
With live high-stakes tournaments on hold, Kempe took to the online streets in pursuit of poker success across much of 2020. He’s a regular in high stakes tournaments on GGPoker and partypoker, and at just 31 years old will likely be a force on the high-stakes scene for years to come.