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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Chip Reese

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

When Chip Reese died at the young age of 56 he left a void in the poker world that may never be filled again.  Reese was neither the most recognizable player nor the most flamboyant player, but many agree he was the best player.  Like many professionals, they didn’t find the game of poker, rather the game of poker found them.  But, when Reese got a hold of the game, he never let go, and while his career was cut short by tragedy, he proved just about everything you can in the game while he was here.  Often times when people pass you hear reports about their good sides and the good points about them.  By all accounts every side and every point about Reese was a good one.  He was a family man first, poker player second.  He was always quick to lend a helping hand, and never once tilted that anyone could remember.  A remarkable feat for a man who routinely played in the biggest cash games the world had to offer.  In our “Where Are They Now” series our attempt is to give each player proper justice and to recognize their proper place in history.  In some cases those stories seem to write themselves.  This is an example of that.

David Edward Reese was born in Centerville, Ohio on March 28, 1951.   Reese was introduced to poker, as well as a variety of other games, from his mother while he was sick at home for an entire school year with rheumatic fever.  Most of the games Reese learned that year remained close to him the rest of his life, especially backgammon and bridge, but it was of course poker that would have the lasting impression on his life.  When Reese returned to school the next year, he challenged fifth graders in poker.  However, the only form of currency Reese had in those days was baseball cards, but he barely ever parted with any of his collection as he more often than not cleaned the older kids out.

Reese continued to play poker with friends and family but still had a desire to go to college to get a proper education.  Reese was accepted to Dartmouth University and earned a degree in economics.  Reese would later go on to win enough money in cash games to boost the economy of most nations, so his degree choice was one he actually used at the poker table.  Reese also played a lot of poker at Dartmouth with his fraternity brothers.  A few years after Reese graduated, Dartmouth renamed their card room the “David E. Reese Card Room.”  At the time though, Reese wanted to go on to get his law degree.  As an undergraduate he turned down an offer from Harvard, but for law school he accepted the offer from Stanford.
The summer before Reese was to head off to Stanford, he moved to Arizona as a representative for a manufacturer.  Shortly before school was supposed to start he started heading west, first to see an ex-girlfriend in Los Angeles, California, then up to Palo Alto, California to Stanford.  That trip would go on to be delayed, forever.  Driving through Las Vegas, Reese stopped with his $400 dollar bankroll to try his luck at the poker table.  After having some success in some cash games he played a $500 tournament.  He went on to win it for nearly $60,000.  After another hot run in cash games he was up to about $100,000 in just over a week.  Reese called his job back in Arizona and said he wouldn’t be making it back and also called up some friends to ask them to clean up his apartment, as he wouldn’t be making it back there either.   Reese ended up moving to Las Vegas, and called Sin City his home for the rest of his life.

It didn’t take long for Reese to make an impact on the bigger names of the poker world.  Shorty after winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet in the 1978 $1,000 Seven-Card Stud Split he was anointed by Doyle Brunson as one of the best young players in the game.  Brunson was so impressed he recruited Reese to write the Seven Card Stud section in “SuperSystem,” which of course has gone on to be the most sought after strategy book in history.  Brunson’s recognition of Reese in the late 70’s turned into a lifelong friendship.

Reese went on to win his second of three bracelets in 1984 in the $5,000 Limit Seven Card Stud Event, but despite these impressive results his heart was in cash games.  Reese is considered by many to be the best cash game player ever.  He was about as close as you can get to what would be considered a “regular” at Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio, which often spreads games as high as $4000/$8000 a hand.  Part of Reese’s ability to win so much was his charm.  Even when he defeated some opponents out of thousands of dollars, he was always nice to them and always left his opponents feeling like they had fun and would want to come back and play with him again.  Away from the poker table Reese was just as nice, but this quality, as much as any, was why he was able to be successful at the poker table.

Reese went on to dominate cash games for the rest of the 90’s and part of the 2000’s only playing in a select amount of tournaments.  That would change though in 2004 when his younger daughter asked him why his family never saw him on television.  Reese wasted no time getting on television, making final tables at the World Poker Tour and making the money at a handful of WSOP events.  His defining moment was still to come though, at the 2006 WSOP.

By most accounts the inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E Championship at the 2006 WSOP was the best final table in history.  The players Chip Reese had to outlast in order of finish were Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, Jim Bechtel, T.J. Cloutier, David Singer, Dewey Tomko, Doyle Brunson, and Patrick Antonious.  The final table alone lasted 12 hours and 10 minutes, but over half of that was spent on the 7+ hours Reese and Bloch played heads-up to finally determine the winner.  That was already after three grueling days leading up to the final table.  By winning the H.O.R.S.E. Championship Reese proved he was the best all around poker player in the world.  His friend Brunson who once called him “one of the best players,” now says Reese “was the best ever.”

Sadly this would be the last big event Reese would ever win.  On December 4, 2007 it was announced that Reese had died at his Las Vegas home after complaining of pneumonia-like symptoms for a few days. writer Jennifer Newell wrote several articles in memory of Reese, including a description of his memorial service that was attended by thousands: Chip Reese Remembered and Good Game: Chip Reese, Poker Legend, Dead at 56.  Katie Lindsay, another PokerWorks writer is believed to have done the last interview that Chip ever held, part of it was adapted for PokerWorks.

When Reese was just 40 years old he became the youngest member inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.  In memory of Reese, the 50k H.O.R.S.E tournament awards the Chip Reese Trophy to the winner of the event.  The trophy depicts the A-Q of clubs, which was the hand Reese held when he won the tournament, and is “chipped,” having being dropped while being transported.

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