“His candle burned out long before his legend ever did.”
Excerpt from 11/27/07 interview with Chip Reese:
Katie Lindsay: What do you think makes someone be considered a legend?
Chip Reese: “I think you have to be in the arena doing battle over a long period of time. You know, the original ‘Hall of Fame of Poker,’ which has changed a lot now, but the original ‘Hall of Fame’ there was certain criteria that you had to have to get in it and people weren’t put in it every year. People only got put in it when someone deserved to be in it. In the original criteria was that you had to play at the highest possible level against your peers, the best possible combination or the best possible competition for a long period of time and stand the test of time. That is what gambling is all about. Doyle probably said it best when a reporter asked Doyle about who the best young players are in poker and you know what Doyle’s answer was? He said, ‘ask me in twenty years who the best players are.’
You don’t really know because in the short run there is a tremendous amount of luck and in today’s world there is a tremendous amount of publicity. If someone wins a big tournament or a couple big tournaments and certainly there are a lot of players out there whose names are very familiar that play in a tremendous amount of tournaments. Some people don’t play a lot of tournaments and some people travel around playing all the tournaments so I sure hope they are going to win a lot of tournaments as they are coming to play in a lot of tournaments and get their name out there. The truth of the matter is you have to stand the test of time. This is a business that you don’t really find out overnight who the best player is.”
I’m still in shock.
While running errands today I received a call from Yosh Nakano.
I had spoke with Yosh last week while working on an article about Stu Ungar for All In Magazine. Yosh suggested that I call Chip in reference to the article.
After calling Chip last Sunday, he suggested that I call him Tuesday afternoon (November 27th) to do the interview. I agreed and did just that.
Chip and I spoke for about 30 minutes on Tuesday. He was utterly friendly, polite, and even cheerful, laughing at stories he shared.
After I ended the phone call I remember feeling in a good mood after our conversation.
Yosh called me today (December 4) around 12:30 this afternoon and asked if I ever called Chip for the article.
“Yes, I called him and he was great! We talked for about a half hour and he was so helpful! Thanks again for suggesting I call him,” I told Yosh.
“Ok, I was just wondering,” Yosh said. “Well…Chip died last night.”
My mouth fell open. I couldn’t believe it, and even though this is something you never joke about I really wanted to ask if he was kidding. It just didn’t make sense to me.
“You may be the last person to ever interview Chip,” he continued.
We fumbled through the rest of our brief conversation, I thanked him for letting me know and we hung up.
I just stood still in disbelief, with tears in my eyes.
Chip and I weren’t necessarily friends, but it has still really hit me hard. Poker lost a great, great man last night. A sincere, thoughtful, and intelligent man.