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Poker News | World Poker News

Good Game: David “Chip” Reese, Poker Legend, Dead at 56

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The poker community mourns the loss of David “Chip” Reese. He was only 56-years old. News spread this morning that he passed away in his sleep, presumably in the early hours of Tuesday, December 4th.

While early reports stated that Chip was admitted to a hospital last night, it has been confirmed by ESPN through Eric Drache, a close friend of the Reese family, that Chip was home when he died. He phoned his doctor at 10pm on Monday night with pneumonia symptoms but never went to the hospital.

The legacy left behind is one that garners much respect, and that legacy is one of a superior professional poker player, dedicated family man, educated individual, and priceless friend.

Chip was born and raised in Ohio, which is where he learned to play all types of games during a bout with rheumatic fever during his first year of elementary school. One of his favorite games was poker, something that he continued to play during high school and college. After graduating from Dartmouth College, he planned to head to Stanford Business School but took a detour through Las Vegas. He never left.

His poker career began almost immediately, netting over $50,000 in his first month of cash game play. He also began playing in what some call the “original Big Game” with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Moss. In that first session, he reported played for four days straight and walked away with over $300,000.

Besides cash games, Chip was able to conquer the tournament circuit as well. His first significant win came in 1978 at the World Series of Poker, taking home his first bracelet in seven-card stud split. In 1981, he made three WSOP final tables, and the following year would bring him another bracelet in limit seven-card stud. He also won the Amarillo Slim’s Superbowl of Poker in 1982 in deuce-to-seven lowball. He was quickly becoming regarded as one of the best all-around poker players in the world.

By 1991, Chip was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame at the age of 45, becoming the youngest player to have been so recognized.

His career thereafter consisted of a plethora of titles and final table finishes, though cash games were always his preference. Even so, he accumulated a total of 21 WSOP cashes – the majority of which were final tables and three were victories – and five World Poker Tour cashes – one being a final table in 2004.

In recent years, Chip was most well-known for his 2006 WSOP victory in the inaugural $50,000 HORSE championship. The field was a stellar one, and his lengthy heads-up match against Andy Bloch is one that poker fans have discussed ever since. His bracelet win in that event solidified what his colleagues had been saying for years, that Chip Reese was the best all-around poker player in the game.

He loved his life, his family, and his friends. And Chip loved poker. In an interview with NBC for the National Heads-Up Championship, he was asked when he will stop playing poker and what he will do after that. His response was: “I’ll stop playing at my funeral. And only God knows what I’ll do after that.”

Well said.

Chip was one of the most respected and admired professionals in the game of poker. Statements from friends are already being released by his friends in the poker world:

Doyle Brunson: “I have lost one of my oldest and dearest friends today. He was one of the most unique individuals I have ever known and poker has lost one of the greats today.”

Todd Brunson: “I have lost a mentor and friend today. He was like a family member to me.”

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey 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 HORSE 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.”

Gus Hansen: (In part) “The world just got poorer today with the loss of Chip Reese… 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’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… 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.”

Barry Greenstein (portions of his audio blog): “Chip was a much deeper person than I think the poker world realizes. He was a real deep thinker. He was a family man like no one else in poker… [Chip] became, if you polled his peers, the greatest player in poker; that’s where they’d put him… We all compete at poker, and the people who are able to keep competing get our respect. And when it comes to respect, Chip was number one… He was a special person.”

Chip is survived by his son Casey (18), daughter Taylor (16), and step-daughter Brittney.

No information has yet been released about funeral arrangements.

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