Rainer Kempe Won the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas
German poker professional Rainer Kempe won the 2nd Annual Super High Roller Bowl, which took place last weekend and early this week at the Aria Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. The Super High Roller Bowl had a prize pool of $15 million, but required a $300 thousand entry free. Forty-nine of the best poker players of the world competed in the tournament.
For winning 1st place, Rainer Kempe collected $5 million in prize money. Feder Holz, a fellow German, finished second in the event. The Super High Roller Bowl showed the growing prominence — if not dominance — of German poker players, which might have been one reason Feder Holz celebrated Kempe’s win, as if he was the winner of the tournament himself.
German Poker Players Dominated
Kempe and Holz entered the final day of the tournament as 1st and 2nd among the chip leaders, so their finishes were not surprises. Rainer Kempe’s victory was impressive, as it was, because of the stiff competition he faced throughout the event.
With such high standards for entry into the field, only the best (or best-funded) players entered the Super High Roller Bowl. Any final table was likely to have a lot of prestigious names sitting at it, and the 2016 final day was certainly that.
Dan Shak Finished in 7th Place
Dan Shak, the multi-millionaire day trader, sat at the final table. Dan Shak was the first player eliminate from the Final 7, as the Super High Roller Bowl sets up the game.
Bryn Kenney and Matt Berkey
Global Poker League (GPL) New York Rounders Team Manager Bryn Kenney was the next out of the tournament. Kenney lost a key hand to Matt Berkey early in the day, then lost an all-in call from Feder Holz to bust out in 6th place. The event was further sign that Bryn Kenney is in his prime, though.
Matt Berkey was the next out of the tournament. Though Berkey has $2 million in tournament winnings and led the chip count on Day 2, he was considered an underdog in the event, because of the accomplishments of other players. Rainer Kempe pushed Berkey out of the field in 5th place.
Phil Hellmuth Goes Out in 4th
That left Kempe, Holz, Phil Hellmuth Jr., and Eric Seidel. Anyone familiar with poker history these past 30 years know that Hellmuth and Seidel are two of the most accomplished players in tournament poker. The two American legends thus were matched up against Germans of the millennial generation, but men holding much larger stacks.
Eric Seidel: The Last American
Eric Seidel doubled through Holz to remain in the tournament. Shortly after, the 14-time WSOP Bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth lost to Kempe’s K-J while holding a Q-J — a bad combination to hold in that situation. Hellmuth, who seldom plays in such events anymore, but his 4th place finish is a sign he still has the magic.
Seidel, who was the second runner-up to Johnny Chan in the 1988 World Series of Poker Main Event (and famously appeared in Rounders in a clip from the ’88 Final), is an American gambling sage. The 56-year old pro has 8 World Series bracelets and 92 money finishes in the World Series of Poker, and few players can match his accomplishments.
That was not enough to stave off elimination in the Super High Roller Bowl, because the blinds were at $800 thousand and Seidel was holding the short stack. He doubled up a second time against Feder Holz, but busted out when his A-7 lost to an A-10 from Rainer Kempe.
Rainer Kempe Bests Feder Holz in Heads-Up Battle
On the final hand, Feder Holz’s pocket 2s were dominated by Rainer Kempe’s pocket 8s and the event was over. The two might have had a deal in place, because they agreed to skip Stage 26 and go to a level with higher blinds. That often happens, if the player with the smaller stack wants the event over with quickly.
Whatever the case, the Germans dominated action on the final day and ended up with $8.5 million in winnings between the two of them. Below is the full payouts list for the final table.