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Remembering Chip Reese

"When it comes to respect, Chip was number one" - Barry Greenstein

Tuesday, the poker world awoke to the shocking news of David "Chip" Reese's death with sorrow and tears, and once the emotional tide caused by his sudden passing recedes, there's no doubt that more and more people will come forward and share their memories of one of the greatest poker players who ever lived.

Reese, a comparatively low-key figure compared to many of his colleagues, was called "The True King of Poker" by Daniel Negreanu after Reese won his final World Series of Poker bracelet in 2006. Reese captured the inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. title during a match wherein he faced Andy Bloch for more than six hours heads up.

Obituaries ran in newspapers across the country, most with a smiling picture of Reese, who did a lot of that while playing poker. And why shouldn't he have? Chip lived a legendary life that is the stuff of movies and will be remembered for as long as cards are dealt.

And it started off with what Reese described as a vacation: "I came to Vegas in 1974, and I really just came for a weekend."

Reese was on his way to graduate business school at Stanford when his life changed forever. As Reese described it, he took the $400 he had in his pocket and within a month turned it into $50,000. He believed he couldn't afford not to stay in Las Vegas. Click here to read more about his time there.

Reese was hardly an amateur when he rolled into Vegas. He had played so many hours of poker during college that when he left, his fraternity named the game room the "David E. Reese Memorial Card Room." Even before getting to college, Reese had a lot of practice. He started playing poker for baseball cards when he was a boy in Dayton, Ohio. He learned how to play cards from his mother while he spent a year at home suffering from rheumatic fever.

When Reese hit Las Vegas, he could not believe how fundamentally flawed some of the greatest and wealthiest players in the world were playing stud, a game in which Reese was considered by many to be a grand master. During the mid-1970s, Reese would win more than $2 million playing cash poker.

He was so good at stud that Doyle Brunson had Reese write the chapter on that game for his masterpiece "Super System."

While in Vegas, Reese didn't just play poker. He was the poker manager at the Dunes, and for a few years in the 1980s, he was a central player with the Computer Group, which was a conglomerate of sports bettors who applied computers and mathematics to sports betting. The operation generated millions of dollars for those involved.

In 1991, at the age of 40, Reese became the youngest member to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Reese took a nearly 10-year break playing major poker tournaments in the mid-1990s, but started entering them again around 2002. He already had two WSOP bracelets at that point (he won a $5,000 limit stud event and a $1,000 stud split event in 1982 and 1978, respectively), but his greatest WSOP moment came when he won the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event in grinding fashion. It was the first time the event was held.

Reese was close to many of the players and was known for his civility and intelligence both at and away from the tables. Many players are in shock at the suddenness of Reese's passing, and many were too choked up to even speak about him. He was a friendly man with many friends and his death was shocking to all that knew him.

"Chip was not only the greatest living all-around poker player on Earth, he was also a friend," Antonio Esfaniari said. "Even before things started going well for me in poker, Chip was always so nice to me. It's a major hit to our industry to lose such a great representative of the game. May he rest in peace."

Reese died in his sleep at his home sometime in the morning on Dec. 4. Although Reese was suffering from a mild case of pneumonia, the exact cause of death is not yet known. Services are planned for Friday, but the details have not yet been released to the public.

The Reese family has requested that, in lieu of flowers or other gifts of condolences, money be donated to the Alzheimer's Association in Chip's name.

People from across the poker world have extended their memorial wishes to the Reese family, and the following are just a few. Please feel free to leave memorial comments about Chip below the article:

Barry Greenstein
, close friend of Reese: "Chip was a much deeper person than what the poker world realizes. He was a real deep thinker. He was a family man like no one else in poker. No matter what the situation was, if his kids had something going on, he would quit and go to it.

"I think if you polled his peers, he became the greatest player in poker. I think that's where they'd put him. It's obviously between him and Doyle … but when it comes to cash games, Chip was the top dog for over 30 years. When it comes to respect, Chip was number one."

Gus Hansen: "With the utmost sadness and shock, I learned this morning that my buddy Chip Reese is no longer among us. The world just gotten poorer today with the loss of Chip Reese.

"Although it is almost impossible for me to understand, Chip died last night after a sudden case of pneumonia. What makes it even harder to sink in is the fact that I just talked to him last night around 7 p.m.

"Chip was not only a world-class poker player but also a world-class individual, and I am proud to call him my friend. Chip was the kind of gambler we should all strive to be.

"Chip's experience, good spirit, and integrity made him the best ambassador for the game, and I am certain that the whole poker community will miss him greatly. I, for one, will miss the fierce competition, our friendship, and his guidance off and on the poker table.

"Chip was extremely gifted and very well respected in the poker world as well as in the business world. His list of achievements is endless, with his 2006 WSOP H.O.R.S.E. win as the latest proof of his excellent poker skills.

"My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Chip's family to whom he was always devoted as a father and a father-figure. Although it is little consolation, it is my hope that they know of the great legacy that Chip is leaving behind."

Mike Sexton: "David 'Chip' Reese was extremely smart (a Dartmouth graduate), probably the most successful poker player of all time, and the youngest player ever inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. If there's one thing you should know about Chip Reese, however, know that he understood the 'object of the game.'

"Years ago, I was talking to Chip about another Hall of Fame poker player that we lost too early, Stu Ungar. I asked Chip if he thought Stuey was the most talented player he'd ever seen. Chip said, 'Natural ability-wise, yes. Certainly, he was the quickest-minded guy I've ever known. Stuey's problem, however, is that he doesn't understand the 'object of the game.' The object of the game is to accumulate wealth, improve your lifestyle, and provide for your family, and Stuey will never get it.'

"Chip did. Poker players have always admired Chip for his success, his demeanor at the table, his lack of ego, and that he never 'steamed' or went on tilt. I'd suggest we remember him as a player who truly understood the 'object of the game.'

"Rest in peace, Chip."

Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly: "It's such a blow to anyone who knew Chip. Others knew him better than us, but we were always warmed in his presence. He had a great disposition and always left you with the feeling of, 'Wow, what a stellar guy.' The poker world will never be the same with out him. He was an icon as well as being a phenom of the game. Our heart-felt condolences for his family."

Johnny Chan: "As many have said and will continue to say, Chip Reese was always a gentlemen. He was easily the best cash game and overall poker player around. He has always been one of my favorite players and it is sad that we just lost one of the Poker Greats. He's in God's hands now and I know he'll be winning the Big Game in the Sky!"

WSOP Commissioner Jeffery Pollack: "Many consider Chip the greatest cash-game player who ever lived, but he was also a World Series of Poker legend. His victory in the inaugural $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship in 2006 won him his third WSOP bracelet and made him a part of WSOP lore forever. On behalf of the WSOP and Harrah's Entertainment, I want to extend to his family our deepest sympathies."


over 6 years ago

I met Chip When I played with him in the Horse Event last year, he is the best poker player/person that I have ever met. He was nice to everyone, never held himself above anyone else and showed respect for me and everyone else he met. I will never forget him, I still remember us playing in a tournament together when he told me, "Well Played" almost two years ago. Good Game Chip, Good Game.


over 6 years ago

From what we have heard or seen from many, Chip was a man who enjoyed what he done, Was keen to see it grow and happy to help anyone get a good start. He always seemed to be smiling. He Survived for so long in the greatest games in the world and always had a story to tell. I Remember during the circuit there was a phonecall asking for some stories from the big game from him. Chip agreed to meet him in person and told stories for a couple of hours to a complete stranger. This man just turned up at the bellagio with no warning and chip quit just to talk to him. A Class act. Great Poker Player and a great man.

Respected by Many, Will be missed by all.

He will truley be remembered until the last card is dealt.

Rest in Peace Chip, An Inspiration to all.


over 6 years ago

Being what I would consider a more than avid poker fan, and a lover of every and all facets of the game, I ritualistically pull up on my computer every morning when I wake up. And yesterday morning, on December 4th, when I did, I couldn't help but be in complete shock. The first thing that caught my eye was the picture of Chip Reese and the dates, "1951-2007". It was all too painfully obvious what had happened, and in an instant, I couldn't help but let out my emotions like I tend to do sometimes. By no means did I know Chip personally. But then again, in terms of poker and Chip in his personal life, few did except for his fellow poker players, personal friends, and those who had the pleasure of meeting the legend that was Chip Reese. I, like many, only knew Chip through what I saw of him through televised poker, interviews, or other forms of media in which he appeared. Even so, that doesn't really matter in the end. The feelings which I felt when I learned the news of Chip's passing only proves that he touched the lives of innumerable other, including people he didn't even know, including myself. This just proves what kind of person Chip was, and how he emitted the vibe of an all-around stand-up person in everything he did. Even though I didn't know Chip, I as if I did, from the many times I saw him on T.V. playing the game he loved so much, and clearly excelled to no end, and through interviews, The Circuit in particular, that really gave an insight to what type of person he really was. Not just a poker player, though first and foremost that is how he will probably be remembered, but also a family man, and a man who truly cared about the lives of others. Just tonight, I listened to Barry Greenstein's audio blog, and while throughout the blog, I felt a great deal of sadness, I couldn't help but feel an enourmous amount of respect for Chip as a person as Barry related numerous stories about Chip and how he was always there to help others in any way he could, often times financially, even when he knew he would most likely never be reimbursed! Barry's blog just gave me more insight to Chip's life which on the whole, made me miss him that much more. I had wanted to someday play with Chip, no matter what it was is (obviously not the big game, but most likely a tournament he was playing in). Being a little younger than 21, I'm still not legal to play with the top dogs as of yet. But now, it looks as if that dream of mine will never become a reality, and that saddens me greatly. Not enough positive things can be said about Chip, as he was clearly a person who was larger than life in more ways than one, and in no ways except good ones. Chip Reese will be remembered forever among those who knew him, those whos lives he touched, and even those who didn't know him, such as myself. The poker world, and the world in general lost a great person yesterday, and few people, if any, will leave a legacy that even slightly compares to the one Chip Reese has left. The poker player, the family man, the friend, the legend. Chip Reese, you will be missed.


Virginia Bob
over 6 years ago

rest in peace chip we are less by you passing, may god comfort your family and watch over them
Virginia bob


over 6 years ago

The news of Chip Reese passing hit pretty hard. A legend has passed and the game of poker has lost something which cannot be replaced. I have had the opportunity to play with Chip during the WSOP and he was 100% a class act. We got to talking about the game and I picked his brain a bit and he was more than willing to offer up his insight and opinions on things. He was approachable, kindhearted, and above all else an amazing player. A lot can be learned from Chip aside from how to play a hand. As poker progresses and grows it becomes ever more a spectator sport. With TV cameras covering every big tournament we see a lot of overacting by players. When you watch Chip play you see a number of things. The first of which is world class play. Not a single player that has ever sat down to play will dispute his talents as a poker player. But there are other things that surface as you watched Chip play. His poise and his demeanor were second to none and a step above world class. Whether he was on the winning end of a hand or receiving a bad beat you never heard one complaint or saw one hint of a celebration. Chip was a man. A man who played the game with skill, ease, and above all else, he played with class and respect for his opponents. He did not gloat when he knocked a player out, nor did he put down a player for making a lucky mistake against him. Today's players should pay attention to what Chip represented and brought to the game of poker. It's a shame that he is not more widely recognized for his many talents and attributes in the game of poker. Yes, within the poker community he is highly regarded as one of the best. But those that only casully know the game ought to know his name as well. His seat can never be filled but his name and his game should never be forgotten. From this point forward the player of the year award should be more than that, it should be a higher honor. It should be the CHIP REESE AWARD given to the best all around player chosen by the players themselves. From a fellow player and fan I would just like to say, thank you, Chip, for all that you have done for the game of poker; and thank you for being as kind as you were to me when we met during the WSOP. Your name will live on as long as the game of poker is being played.

-"The Dynamite Kid" Cris Belkewitch


over 6 years ago

chip reese wow what can i say this was very sad news seems sureal almost .a true legend and icon in the poker world .rest in peace chip .my condolensces to chips family ,you will all be in my prayers tonight .


over 6 years ago

As an amateur poker player I never got a chance to meet Chip. But I always admired the way all of the pros that did know him spoke so highly of him. I don't think I have ever read or heard a negative word about Chip. He was such a pioneer and groundbreaking player that the modern day popularity and celebrity of poker owes more to Chip Reese than I think we really realize.

Goodbye Chip, we're all gonna miss you!!!


over 6 years ago

There are few in this world who's personality and persona we are drawn to. I learned to play poker by watching others and Chip was one who taught not only how to play poker but how to handle life away from the felt. Didn't have the pleasure to meet or play him personally but if a article came out or a show was on I paid extra attention to his play. That was tough to log on and see the post on the web. He will be missed. May we all be half the gentleman Chip has been. Prayers to all his family and friends.


over 6 years ago

Chip was an ace among jacks


over 6 years ago

A life well done but done far too soon. You will be missed and forever admired.


over 6 years ago

i can remember many times wondering to myself about a hand i played.
i would walk by chip who was either in a tourney or in the big game.
my face would be all scrunched up and he say whats the matter darlin?
and after telling him what i was thinking he would always share his opinion. it didnt matter that 100's of thousands were at stake!
he loved poker, his family, his friends.
my deepest sympathies go out to all who were ever graced by his presence.
-melissa hayden


over 6 years ago

My deepest condolences to his family and to those who knew him as a great friend and person. The comments of those who knew and love him are a testament his greatness at and away from the table. All of us who play and love poker owe thanks to Chip Reese for the example he set and the life that he lived. Good game, Chip.


over 6 years ago

I never had the pleasure to meet Mr. Reese, and after reading all of the posts here I am sure I have missed out on someone special. I hope he is looking down from his table in heaven knowing that the "Poker family of the word" is missing him. Now get back to your table Mr. Reese there is a chip and a chair there waiting for you and I am sure Mr. Unger, Mr. Binion, and Mr. Moss are calling you to get back in the game. You left an incredible mark on this world, and that is what life is all about. Where most of us touch a couple of people in life you touched many more. Thank you for all that you gave to us.


over 6 years ago

I never met the man, but after reading all these tributes to him I wish I had the opportunity to share a conversation with him. God always takes the great ones first. DT Toronto, Canada


over 6 years ago

If there is ever a time to thank someone i only heard abotu and never met it is now. The sands of time sweep us off our feet, but the footprints we leave behind resonate more the harder we touch the earth. Chip's love for poker has helped inspire many people, including myself, to love the same game he built his life around. Thank you for helping me find something i love to work at. RIP Chip Reese.


over 6 years ago

"Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out."

Rest In Peace, Chip. You have no idea how deeply you will be missed.


over 6 years ago

He made the game look so effortless and always had that smile on his face. We'll miss u Chip.


over 6 years ago

Chip was my poker hero over 25 years ago.We cgatted on several occassions in the early 80s about poker of course. Chip you were the greatest , we will miss you.-John formerly of LasVegas


over 6 years ago


I only met Chip once in the Rio restroom. I told him that I really respected his play and integrity and he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, " thank you I really appreciate that. Good luck to you"

Nice man,


over 6 years ago

Whenever I saw Chip Reese on TV or on a magazine, his heart warming smiles made me just want to become good at poker that much more. It's sad how things can come at you so fast. One day you're as healthy as a horse and by the next day you're gone. He is a legend and legends live forever.


over 6 years ago

I will never forget the first time I heard Chip speak. It was on a WSOP ESPN broadcast many years ago before the hole card cam phenomenon. His mind was sharp, he was articulate and he understood the game of poker better than anyone, to that point, had ever been on TV. Later I learned he was part of the original computer group along with Billy Walters and other legendary sports bettors. He was an inspiration to me and a gaming renaissance man. Those that knew him well paint the portrait of a truly special individual. Poker may go on without him, but it will never be the same.


over 6 years ago

I never met Chip but the fact that he avoided the lime light and kept a low profile made me respect him even more. Many of the new players to the game should realize that you don't have to pose for the camera to be noticed in the game of poker. It was his skill and dedication to the game that will make him remembered as one of the best players to have ever played the game. Rest in peace Chip.


over 6 years ago

I met Chip for the frist time this year at the WSOP. He was a great guy and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family in this uneasy time. R.I.P. Chip, we all owe you alot!


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