It was with sadness that the word spread through the poker community late on April 6 and into April 7. The 20-year old son of the late David “Chip” Reese was dead; Casey is speculated to have overdosed on prescription drugs. By the afternoon of April 7, calls to Nevada’s Clark County Coroner’s Office confirmed that Casey passed away at 17:25 on Monday, April 6.
Word first came through unsubstantiated rumors on some of the popular poker forums, and Phil Hellmuth reportedly sent a Twitter message to that effect, but Daniel Negreanu stepped in to confirm. “I was at Bellaagio [sic] last night when we all got the news,” he wrote. “Very sad. Everyone took it pretty hard. Kid was 20 years old, an incredible baseball pitcher, super smart, good looking kid… very sad. Chau [Giang] was a very good friend of both Chip and Casey and while he came down to play poker he just couldn’t do it. It was a shock. People were both sad, and also pretty angry at the same time.”
Soon after, Doyle Brunson, who had been extraordinarily close friends with Chip, wrote about Casey’s passing. In part, his blog post said, “Casey was found in his apartment from an apparent overdose of prescription drugs. I had seen Casey a few days ago and he looked great. He was very handsome and extremely personable. I will always remember the closeness between Chip and Casey. My deepest condolences to the Reese family. I feel like I’ve let Chip down but I don’t know what I could have done to help Casey.”
Chip Reese died on December 4, 2007, at the age of 56, having passed away in his sleep after experiencing pneumonia symptoms prior. His death was difficult to take for many poker players, as Reese had been proactive about losing weight and trying to stay relatively healthy in a business - poker - that required odd hours and a lifestyle that can easily lead to health problems. He was also considered one of the greatest all-around poker players to have ever graced the green felt, and his passing was a hard-hitting incident for his friends and many others in the poker world.
The elder Reese was survived by a step-daughter, son Casey who was 18 at the time of his father’s death, and daughter Taylor who was two years younger than her brother. Casey spoke, reportedly, with great eloquence at his father’s extremely well-attended funeral service, as he shared fond memories and surrounded himself with family and friends of his father.
Casey took after his father in ambition, though did not spend much time playing poker. His concentration was on baseball, as he excelled at the sport as a pitcher in high school and reportedly accepted a scholarship to the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2008, though he never went on to play baseball there. Unconfirmed reports tell of Casey’s difficulties in dealing with the death of his father, but no official statement from the family can confirm.
Any motivation for the death - whether it be suicide or otherwise - is purely speculative at this point. The Coroner’s Office has ordered a toxicology report on Casey, but results may not be available for up to 12 weeks.