During the break Reinkemeier joined us for a chat where we also stumbled into the former Australian cricket legend Shane Warne (it’s amazing who you bump into outside the back doors of the Rio these days!) Here is what Reinkemeier had to say after Warne posed for a very quick photo.
With over $3.7 million in live tournament earnings, Tobias Reinkemeier is a player with a few moves up his sleeve. The twenty-four year old German is one of only a handful of players to achieve multiple 7-figure scores, and he was one of the forty-eight participants to pay $1,000,000 for the opportunity to play in the Big One for One Drop, where Antonio Esfandiari took home a cheque for $18 million.
You are well known for your participation in the European High-Roller events. Talk us through your rise to prominence.
I started playing poker back in 2006 when I was eighteen years old. I remember seeing an advert on television for a poker school. All you had to do was enroll and they would give you a bankroll with a free $50 deposit. I decided to give it a shot and told myself that I would quit if I lost the $50. As it turns out I have never deposited any of my own money and the $50 was the start of the bankroll I have today.
Where did you first start playing online?
I played primarily at PartyPoker. I remember they had a beginner’s section and it was very soft. I played there at first, then started playing sit n go’s, then tournaments and so forth.
How was your bankroll management in those early days?
I never went broke because I never really took huge shots. If I needed to move down in stakes to play I would. I never had a problem moving up and down in stakes.
Were you studying at the time?
I was studying economics at university back then. I really thought that I could split my time playing poker and studying – with more emphasis on the studying – but the more I got into it, and started to earn more money, the more difficult it became. Then in 2008 I had a decision to make. I was sharing a room with 3 other students and I would be go out with them and only play poker on the weekends. Eventually, in 2008, I decided I had to leave so I could concentrate more on poker and give it a shot. So I quit my studies in 2008 and moved to Malta.
Did you relocate to Malta with any other players?
I actually moved out there with my girlfriend. We both quit our studies in Germany at the same time and moved. I lived there for a year before moving to London where I live to this day.
So how did the online grinder turn into a live tournament specialist?
I had always played live poker from very early on, but the day I won the $500 buy-in event at the 2007, European Poker Tour (EPT) in Dortmund, changed everything. I won $39,966 for that win and it was a really big score for me. In fact, I felt happier winning that event than I did when I won the High Roller in Monte Carlo 3-years later.
Who was the first person you contacted to celebrate after that win in Dortmund?
I rang my parents. In the beginning of my poker career they were sceptical, but I promised I would never deposit any of my own money and stayed true to my word. When I cashed out my first significant amount of money, online, they really started to really trust me and accept my choice to be a professional poker player.
What is it about you and Monte Carlo? In 2010, you won the €25,000 High Roller for $1,272,698 and then in 2011, you were runner-up to Justin Bonomo in the €100,000 Super High-Roller for $1,404,750?
It is actually 2 consecutive years because in 2011 they switched venues to Madrid (laughs). A lot of it is variance to be honest. Generally, I like the high roller tournaments, because the chances of making a good score are much more likely than a WSOP event for example. It’s tough in high rollers because the players are good, but there are some businessmen, and essentially way less players. The $100k had thirty-eight runners for example so it’s much easier to win that the WSOP Main Event with nearly 7-thousand.
How do you manage to play in such big games in a financial sense?
I am friendly with a lot of German poker players who take pieces of my action. I am never going to put up huge amounts of money in a single tournament like the One Drop, for example, because the variance is so huge. So generally, it’s arranged within the German poker community.
When did you start considering playing in the One Drop?
I actually considered playing it from the moment I heard about it happening. I saw that there was a lot of interest and a lot of people who wanted to play. Then I started to get excited. I started asking people what they thought about it and it went from there.
Shaun Deeb and Gus Hansen were heads-up in the $25,000 Mega Satellite. The winner won a seat in the $1,000,000 One Drop event and the runner-up took home the consolation prize of $1,000,000 in cash. If you were in that situation would you have wanted to lose and take the cash?
Not for me…the tournament (One Drop) has a lot of equity and so I would definitely have wanted the seat. Besides, even if you won the seat, you could still sell some pieces anyway.
Do you think we have reached our ceiling with the $1,000,000 buy-in event?
I doubt it to be honest. You can clearly see that $1 million reaches the limit for poker players. There were a lot of good players who wanted to play in the One Drop but couldn’t finance the million. So if you did a $5 million buy-in you would have less poker players and more businessman, but it is definitely a possibility.
Did any of the so-called Whales surprise you in the One Drop?
I was surprised at Guy Laliberte. He played solid and was very serious. You could tell he wanted to win very badly. It’s easy to say he is a rich fish, but when he plays in some different games he is probably a big winner. But playing with the top pros (Ivey and Antonius) he is going to be an underdog, but he is a very good player.
What interests do you have outside of poker?
I like working out in the gym and fine dining. I love Japanese food.
Are you going to be playing poker forever?
I am always going to play a little bit of poker but not as much as I am now. I don’t think it is a permanent thing for me, but to be honest I don’t really have much of a clue what I will be doing one year from now.
Thanks to Tobias for his time