Chino Rheem: 'I've Won a Lot of Money, One of My Flaws is Holding Onto It'

Published on 14 October 2013 by Pokerlistings 2650

David "Chino" Rheem is a lighting rod for controversy in the poker community. He's won millions of dollars at poker's most prestigious tournaments but he's been plagued by debt and accusations of shady behavior. In this candid interview from WSOP Europe in Paris Rheem speaks openly about what people say about online, his debts and his goals moving forward as one of poker's most talented players.

Actually it's funny, I have no problem accumulating chips on day one. It's never really a problem for me. I'll be the first to admit holding onto the chips is a problem, especially even for all the big events that I've won, I swing. I'll go from chip leader to short stack back up to chip leader. I don't do it on purpose obviously, it just happens. It's just, I guess it's just a part of my style of play. I definitely know how to switch gears and play solid and tight when I need to and whatnot, but you I like to play pots. I like to go for the chips because, naturally, you can't win the tournament unless you get all the chips. But I, obviously, understand you can't do it on the first day. For me, day two is always the hump day for me. Normally, if I get past day two, I tend to have a real good result. Getting past day one is not so hard but day two is the hump day and right now we're doing okay. I'm just trying to play small ball, cautious poker, and I just go with my instincts.

Yeah, I've always said I play poker for the money but I won't lie. I want a bracelet under my resume and the best I did finish was second to Allen Cunningham. I wanna say back then I knew what I was doing, but I definitely wasn't experienced. Allen was a far better player than me and had just more experience and just knew what was going on. Yeah, I definitely want to have a bracelet under my resume. It does mean something. But I'm not going to sit here and just like... yeah titles are cool to have on your resume when you win or whatnot. But, overall, I play for the money but trying to get a bracelet would be nice.

I'll just say it like this, having to deal with it, it's not easy. It's not to walk in my shoes. You know what I mean? But the thing is, I can be a man and admit. The things that people say online, not necessarily are always true, but there's some truth in what they say. I've made mistakes when it comes just with money and things like that. You know what I mean? I've won a lot of tournaments, won a lot of money but I guess one of my flaws or leaks would be holding on to the money or whatnot. And yeah, I've done some things that I'm not proud of. I man up to it. I admit it. I just try to live each day and try to make the best of it. For the people who don't know me, it doesn't bother me. I don't care what they think. They can think whatever they want. I have a lot of good friends in the poker world that, they know what type of person I am and that's all that matters to me.

Here's the thing, for me personally, I've been in this spot quite a few times so it's not really... it's nothing for me. For me, it's just trying to play another poker tournament, playing the best you can and just trying to win it. And I happened to... I was just fortunate enough that I had a big enough chip lead when I got heads up with E-Dog and that the cards fell my way, that I was able to win it. As far as our personal past and demons and whatnot and the things we had going on in our lives, yeah it's true. Me and E, we had some financial problems and whatnot. But that's one of the people I respect a lot in poker. E-Dog is a real good, great guy. And he came clean and said he had some issues and whatnot and he's trying to make the best of it. You can't knock anyone for their past mistakes. As long as people man up to it and just try to make the best of it, I got no problem with that. And yeah, for me an E, we got one-two. We had our little financial problems, and we just tried to play as good as poker we can and get the best result. And I think we did all right.

Also, It sounds cliche and whatnot but you have to have the right mindset. for me, one of the things that just has kept me going for the last four or five years is just that I always believe that I'm gonna win another big tournament and get out. For me personally, I have this mentality that it's gonna be okay. I try to just look at the best of any situation, just try to make the best of it because there's no point in being a pessimist about whatever situation is going on in life because it doesn't help for you to be in a negative situation and just completely think negative. Even if it's real bad, I try to...don't get me wrong. There's was a time where I...I've just been completely rock bottom but the thing was was the little glimmer of hope or faith that I had that it's gonna be okay is what's kept me going and helped me survive to right now.

I've always said it, that's God's gift and blessing to me, is that he's surrounded me with great people in my life, you know what I mean? I can't be thankful enough for that. For me, when I just first started, I've had friends that have just had great success in poker and we've been around it for so long and we're known to it and used to it. And for me, yeah, I'm fortunate enough and thankful enough to have just good people in the poker world in my life that have helped me out and supported me along my way throughout my career.

I'm not out of debt yet. I'm trying to get out of debt. And then, once I get out of debt then I guess we can take a real big breather and sit back and look at the whole scheme of things. But you know, I guess I'm playing it because it's what I'm good at and if...there's times where me and my friends, we talk about it. We think like, "What would we do? What else is there to do?" Because we say, "We're not trying to play poker till we die." We want to enjoy our lives. Overall, if you think about it, I get to travel the world and see a lot of beautiful cities and play poker tournaments for a living. Regardless if I'm broke or if I'm a billionaire, you can't really beat that. It's a beautiful thing and for me personally, I just want to finally get out and then be able to sit back and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

I keep saying in these interviews after I win a big WP tour or have a million dollar score that I'm gonna try to change. But let's be honest, like fucking, I haven't really done that fully. It just takes a lot of trial and error for someone to grow as a man. And me, personally, I guess it took a lot of like... more than one trial and error for me to figure out necessarily the right thing to do. From everything what I take from it, I started off the World Series this summer with like a 10-mile head start winning this WPT before the World Series even started, and I probably ended dead last. And that was nobody's fault but mine, and I've realized that. So now I'm just...I just try to take everything in stride and make the best of it.