Remembering David "Chip" Reese..One of the greatest poker players who ever lived


Registered User
Jan 26, 2005

"When it comes to respect, Chip was number one" - Barry Greenstein
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.
Read story at the end 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

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:

Barry Greenstein, 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

Gus Hansen: “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

“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.”

Mike Sexton: “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.”

Phil Laak 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.”

Johnny Chan: "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!"

WSOP 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.”


Perv-switch toggler
Oct 3, 2004
speaking of respect in the poker world, I read that Ben Affleck won the respect of many poker insiders when he tanked a hand in a major competition against a player who "couldn't afford to lose".


Registered User
Feb 16, 2005
Center Valley, Pa.
i read this in sports illustrated and couldnt believe it. the guy wasnt old and was just starting to play more tournaments that are televised. got to love a guy that turns 400 into 50k r.i.p.