Marvin Rettenmaier lives in a mad poker world! “If I make a mistake, even if I win the pot, I get really mad”

WPT winner Marvin Rettenmaier is the latest young pro to take poker by storm

In part one of our exclusive chat with Germany’s young poker sensation, Keir Mackay finds out why Marvin Rettenmaier is making his opponents mad.
You may know very little about the new WPT World Champion ‘Mad’ Marvin Rettenmaier. But all that is about to change because the German is one of the brightest personalities on the circuit. Rettenmaier is undoubtedly one of poker’s good guys, always ready to flash a warm smile in the direction of those who crave his attention. However, pinning him down can be tricky.
Over two weeks in Vegas we had crossed paths time and again. From bowling at the Red Rock Casino to a private party at the Palazzo, in the halls of the Rio to taxi ranks on the Strip, every meeting was the same; a quick bump of the shoulders, shake of the hands and attempt at a chat ruined by the end of dinner breaks or prior engagements. Clearly Rettenmaier is a man in demand. And not without reason. In May, after years of near-misses, deep runs and almost-there cashes, the 25-year-old finally came good on his undoubted potential. At the WPT World Championships in Las Vegas, he dominated the field from start to finish. It marked the start of a whirlwind summer, where barely a week after signing a new sponsorship deal with PartyPoker, Rettenmaier had won the biggest event of his life for $1.2 million. Things were about to get interesting. Life was about to change. Or so you might think. 
Sadly for the party-loving youngster, there was no time to celebrate and blow his new-found fortune on excess. Instead he found eight solid weeks of poker at the WSOP were his reward, and understandably finding time for interviews in the midst of this grind isn’t his number one priority. ‘I love it,’ he says ironically when I finally ask about the media attention he’s been bombarded with in the past year. ‘When you come back from playing 12 hours, being on the phone doing interviews is kind of exhausting. There are probably things I would like better in the middle of the night, but at least people are interested,’ he adds, smiling. ‘Somebody cares about me!’ It’s an insight, however brief, into the infectious and positive outlook Rettenmaier has on life. Later that week he would finally open up and let me into his mad world. To be honest, it’s a place we’d all love to visit.

Mr Perfect

In person, Rettenmaier doesn’t carry the look of a superstar. The first time we meet, he‘s dressed in a ill-fitting t-shirt from Hooters, flip-flops and lounge pants, his hair ruffled like Justin Bieber. Those close to Mad Marvin share stories of lost passports, late night songs at the piano and casual lateness, and, by his own admission he’s not the most organised in life. So when we sit down for our first (of many) interviews, I’m expecting a whirlwind of energy, eager to make it back from the Main Event dinner break in 90 minutes time. Wrong. Forget the baggy trousers, novelty t-shirt and Shaggy-esque haircut, this is a focused young man who lives and breathes poker perfectionism. ‘If I make a mistake, even if I win the pot, I get really mad,’ he says over dinner at the Gold Coast’s noodle bar. ‘It’s always the little things. I won a big pot earlier and I hated the way I put chips in on the river. Not the size or the speed with which I bet, but the colour of the chips I used. Little things like that get to me. I made it look bigger than it had to be.
It was 15,000 and I put in two red 5k chips and five yellow 1k chips instead of three reds. It really pissed me off!’ That burning need to cut out flaws doesn’t initially fit with his ‘mad’ nickname, although that’s not to say his moniker isn’t deserved. As he continues to munch away, he explains that even his first big win came about by accident and that, had it not been for meeting his new girlfriend in February, he might still be waiting on that WPT glory.
With the WSOP looming, he wasn’t 100% committed to playing at the Bellagio in May, until she told him to play. Even his €118k EPT side event win in Monte Carlo needed a little bit of female encouragement. ‘Last year I played every single tour stop there was, but this year I’ve been taking off a couple of weeks in between, and I’ve been successful so it’s working,’ Rettenmaier explains. ‘I got myself a girlfriend, and that’s a good thing, it makes me party less. Last year poker was everything. It was all I did. I didn’t have a private life. But this year that’s definitely changed. And I’m very happy about it. I feel like I’m pretty down to earth.
But, give me one Jack and Coke… nah just kidding.’ The newfound direction is working. The past 12 months have easily been Mad Marvin’s most successful and have led many to believe he’s one of the future stars of the game. ‘Last year, I tried to pull myself together, and for the first half of the year I was pretty good,’ he adds. ‘But in the end I just couldn’t take it any more. After every single day of playing I wanted to go out. Now I’m a good boy.’ His demeanour leaves me questioning where the ‘mad’ nickname really came from. There’s a reason Rettenmaier’s not ‘Average Marvin’ or ‘Standard Grinder Marvin’. Yet just as I ask him where his reputation was earned, our first time together comes to a halt. Before the waiter has time to slam our bill on the table, the German chucks a $100 into the middle and gets up to make the trek back to the Rio. Round two would have to wait.
Don’t miss part two of Mad Marvin next week on

Vital Statistics

Name: ‘Mad’ Marvin Rettenmaier
Age: 25
Born: Germany
Career Earnings: $3,026,542
Biggest Win: WPT World Championships, 2012 – $1,196,858
WSOP Cashes: 13
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