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:
, 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."
: "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."
: "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."
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."
"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!"
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."