Winning is the one thing poker players want. They crave it, they need it and every single one of them thinks they deserve it more than their opponents. German pro Marvin Rettenmaier is not just one of those pros; he’s one of the best. Rettenmaier became European Poker Player of the Year, BLUFF Player of the Year, finished second to only Dan Smith in the GPI Player of the Year ranking and above all that he won more than $2.5 million in live tournaments. His results are stunning as he notched up four victories of at least six figures. Rettenmaier’s biggest success to date was the WPT Championship, just over a year ago when he took home the $1,196,858 first-place prize. In this in-dept interview right after the EPT Grand Final Rettenmaier speaks openly about the highs and lows in his career, the heart condition that left him sober for quite a while as it also helped him improve his poker game.
Does a bust out from a big event still hurt, or is it easy to shake off?
It definitely hurts. Especially this one, since I haven’t always played my A-game in EPT Main Events. I really told myself that I was going to focus 100%, and I feel like I did, but things just didn't go my way today.
Do you know while you’re playing if you’re focused or not, or is that something you realize only after the fact?
It depends, there are some hands that you could’ve played differently, which you realize a day later when you think about it. I don’t think anyone ever plays 100% perfect all the time. Sometimes you’re tired because you didn’t, or couldn’t, go to bed for some reason. Then you definitely notice the difference, and there has even been a time where I thought I was bluffing, but I actually later saw that I had a straight. That’s when you know that you’re really tired, but luckily that happens only once every three years or so.
Do you think that you should be taking more rest?
Definitely. I really felt like I needed some time off right now, and that’s why I came here after a one-week vacation. I was working as well during my holiday, but I wasn’t playing poker. It definitely helps to get your mind off it, but I still find it difficult to actually do that. It’s hard to tell myself, “You need a break,” just because there are so many events, both good and prestigious. Every week there’s a new tournament and you need to choose between a couple. It’s hard to say, “I’m not going to play this event,” because there’s always a reason to play. This year I’m not even going for Player of the Year and I still have that feeling. Last year, when I was going for Player of the Year, I just played everything that I could. Now I’m just thinking, I can’t skip EPT Grand Final because it’s the Grand Final, I can’t skip EPT Berlin because it’s in my home country and so on.
Is there a voice in your head that tells you why you can’t skip a certain event?
It tells me that I need to win an EPT, and I can’t skip the World Series in Melbourne because I need that bracelet. I really want to win and I love competing. Even when I was on my little holiday I was trying to beat my grandparents playing rummy. It felt good. (Laughing) No mercy!
So it’s not a thing for you to look at a certain event and think, “If I don’t play I’m missing out on a certain amount because of my ROI.”
It is when I plan it. It’s a bit of both, but when I’m playing I’m not focused on the money at all. It’s just my competitive nature that makes me want to compete all the time.
Do you approach poker like a business, and do you track everything you play and spend in an Excel sheet?
I do, I’m good at doing all my accounting. If I have a decision between playing one tournament and another, I will decide based on which gives me the better EV. Then again, if one of the tournaments is very prestigious, I will choose that over a smaller event. That’s mainly because of future EV as well, with sponsorship deals and other things like that. Because of my results I have a deal with PartyPoker now.
Rettenmaier after winning the EPT Prague High Roller (Photo: Neil Stoddart - PokerNews)
How do you make sure that your finances are all in order, is that a difficult part of being a professional?
I think I’m pretty good at it with buying shares and writing down my swaps in tournaments. Sometimes it’s a little much though when you’re booking a lot of flights and hotels. In that case I might forget to write something down occasionally. I’m trying to keep that to a minimum though.
Do you have any idea how many live events you played last year in total?
I should, but I really don’t know. Mohsin Charania told me that he played 100 last year, so I assume that I played around 150 or maybe even more.
Do you know how much that is in buy ins?
No, that’s really everything from 1k Turbo events to High Rollers.
Do you keep an eye on your travel spending at all?
Not really, It’s not like I just write down every time I take a cab or something like that. I know about what I spend on traveling, which is a lot of money. I played around 150 tournament over 30 stops, so around 30 flights and that adds up to maybe €15,000. I’m on the road around 250 days per year, and I’m not even a big spender on hotel rooms but that’s still around €35,000. Besides that maybe some extra’s so €60,000 in total seems about right.
You had a great 2012 so that is easy to deal with I assume, but what if you don’t have any big scores this entire year from now on, would that affect your life?
I wouldn’t be happy about it, but it wouldn’t destroy me financially. You shouldn’t play that high if it does affect you in that way, but let’s not think about that! That’s not going to happen (Laughing). I just want to win more tournaments, but I would financially at least be okay if something like that would happen.