Three-time WSOP bracelet winner Reese dead at 56

Updated: December 5, 2007, 12:24 AM ET
By Gary Wise | ESPN Poker Club

Poker legend David "Chip" Reese, a renowned cash-game player and the owner of three World Series of Poker bracelets, died Tuesday. He was 56.

Eric Drache, a close friend of the family, said Reese called his doctor at 10 p.m. on Monday complaining of pneumonia symptoms but never went to a hospital and died in his sleep. He was found by his son early Tuesday morning at his Las Vegas home.

Chip Reese
Steve Grayson/WireImageChip Reese, shown competing in 2004, was one of the world's best. The winner of the $50,000 HORSE event will win a trophy named in his honor.

"I knew him for 35 years, I never saw him get mad or raise his voice," said Doyle Brunson, one of poker's greats, according to The Associated Press. "He had the most even disposition of anyone I've ever met. He's certainly the best poker player that ever lived."

Born in Centerville, Ohio, Reese was considered by many of his peers to be the best all-around poker player in the world. He made his first trip to Las Vegas in 1973. Once there, his play proved so successful that he opted to drop out of Dartmouth College to play poker professionally. He had been a Las Vegas resident ever since.

"He just accidentally stumbled into Las Vegas and never left," World Series of Poker media director Nolan Dalla said to the AP.

Reese's most notable triumph in the eyes of the growing poker community was his victory in the $50,000 HORSE event at the 2006 World Series of Poker, where he and fellow final table participants Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey were touted as "the three generations of poker." The HORSE victory gave Reese his third WSOP bracelet, and his first in 24 years.

"Many consider Chip the greatest cash-game player who ever lived, but he was also a World Series of Poker legend," WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said in a press release. "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. "

Reese's greatest strength as a poker player was an even temperament that could withstand the most emotional situations. In 1991, the esteem of his peers was demonstrated when Reese became the youngest player to ever be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. He, along with Brunson, was considered the anchor of "The Big Game," the largest rotating cash game in the world, most often hosted in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio. Reese's face is among those adorning the walls there.

"I have lost one of my oldest and dearest friends today," Brunson said. "He was one of the most unique individuals I have ever known, and poker has lost one of the greats today."

Todd Brunson, Doyle's son, competed against Reese regularly.

"I have lost a mentor and friend today," Todd Brunson said. "He was like a family member to me."

Brunson and Reese eventually became business partners, investing in everything from oil wells and mining to TV stations and racehorses and becoming sports betting consultants.

None of the ventures was successful, Brunson said.

"We went to look for the Titanic. We went to look for Noah's Ark. We were two of the biggest suckers whenever it came to business, but we both had poker to fall back on," Brunson told the AP. "Thank God we could play, so we always survived."

Reese's friends and family are asking for time to reflect on his death.

He is survived by his son Casey, 18, his daughter Taylor, 16, and his stepdaughter Britney. He was recently divorced from his wife.

Services are planned for Friday in Las Vegas, Brunson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gary Wise has contributed to ESPN.com since 2007. He is well-studied in the history of poker and presents a unique tableside view of the goings-on in the poker community. Google author profile

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