The countdown to the year’s biggest event has begun and over the next 25 days, Poker Central will introduce the entire 2017 Super High Roller Bowl field. From the world’s best high-stakes players, to online crushers and successful businessmen, poker’s most exclusive event has it all. Follow Poker Central’s “25 Days of SHRBowl” to know who will be competing when cards get in the air on May 28th.

Germany has been a force on the High Roller circuit for the better part of the decade and evident by their 1-2 finish in last year’s event, their reign of terror is nowhere near complete. While Fedor Holz may have been the poster-child for German High Roller domination prior to the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl, when the event concluded, Germany had a new talisman, Rainer Kempe.

Kempe beat his countryman heads up to win the 2016 title and $5,000,000 and overnight, Kempe became a household name. From the outside looking in, Super High Roller Bowl fans may have seen Kempe’s victory as an upset but for those closer to the action, his triumph was a long time coming.

While some players we have featured throughout the buildup of the year’s biggest event have results and victories spanning decades, Kempe’s first real breakout score came two years ago. The German finished 5th in the EPT 12 Barcelona Main Event, earning $364,000, and then two months later, recorded another huge final table run in the EPT 12 Malta Main Event.  

He notched another 5th place finish and netted a $177,000 score but Kempe didn’t stop there. Through the final two months of 2015, he added a podium finish in the partypoker.net WPT Montreal Main Event and his first-career victory in the €25,000 High Roller at EPT 12 Prague.

The win gave Kempe a taste but he’d have to wait until 2016’s biggest event to sample the winner’s circle again. Kempe did so when he took down last year’s Super High Roller Bowl and ever since, has been a High Roller machine.

Since winning the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl, Kempe has nine cashes in events with buy-ins over $25,000. Those results include an ARIA $50,000 Super High Roller victory from last summer, worth $531,000, a cash in the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop, a podium finish in the HK$250,000 Triton Super High Roller Series Six Max event earlier this year, another ARIA $50,000 Super High Roller victory from March and a 3rd place result in the $50,000 Super High Roller at last month’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.

In between all that High Roller heavy lifting, Kempe put in work on the West Coast and was named World Poker Tour California Swing Player of the Year. Kempe made a deep run in the $10,000 buy-in LA Poker Classic Main Event and then final tabled the $7,500 buy-in Shooting Star Main Event at Bay 101. Those finishes earned Kempe a combined $242,000 and have pushed his career earnings dangerously close to $10 million.

The results that surround Kempe’s career-defining victory prove that last year’s win was anything but a flash in the pan or an upset. He has continued to churn out big finishes ain big events and has continuously lived up to the title Super High Roller Bowl Champion. Tomorrow, he returns to poker’s biggest stage to defend his crown.

That concludes “25 Days of SHRBowl” and the year’s biggest event is now just a few hours away. Follow Poker Central’s coverage of the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl and get in the game with PokerGO.