Last summer, Rainer Kempe announced himself to the poker world. Kempe claimed the most prestigious title of the year, winning the Super High Roller Bowl for a $5,000,000 score. The victory came at the hands of Kempe’s countryman, Fedor Holz, who had to settle for a modest $3,500,000 result for his runner-up finish. While Holz followed that 2nd place performance up with a WSOP bracelet later that summer, Kempe has been looking for that second breakthrough score ever since. 

Through the first few months of 2017, he has come dangerously close. Kempe notched a podium finish in the HK$250,000 Triton Super High Roller Series Six Max event and is coming off a final two table run in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event. In between WPT stops, Bay 101 starts next week, Kempe and some German comrades took the short trip to Vegas and when the dust settled in today’s $50K Super High Roller, he had navigated his way to get heads up with another German across the table from him. 

Just like last summer, Kempe came out on top. He quietly moved himself up the leaderboard as the final table played towards the money and when he finally secured the chip lead, Kempe never let it go.

Yes, the stakes were lower, there were no television cameras and there was no confetti when Kempe received his trophy but there were friends, there were congratulations and there was a sense that, after a few close calls, tonight’s win could set Kempe up for more success throughout the rest of the year. 

Kempe will hope that that success comes this summer, when he attempts to historically defend his Super High Roller Bowl title. Until then, he and a handful of other Germans will head back to California. They will all look to continue their white hot starts to 2017, before returning home to prepare for the year’s biggest event. 

That concludes Poker Central’s coverage of this weekend’s ARIA High Rollers. Relive all the $50K Super High Roller final table action here and a complete weekend recap will be posted on Monday. Poker Central will return to ARIA later this month for more High Roller action and until then, follow Poker Central, your ultimate poker lifestyle destination.