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There are many different breeds of
famous poker players. There are those who have become famous through their personalities or look. There are players who have
become famous by winning high profile tournaments. And there are players who are famous because they write good poker articles or
books. The rarest form of famous player is one that has quietly
and consistently beat the biggest cash games for decades. Chip Reese falls into that category. Prior to his passing December
2007, Chip was widely regarded as possibly the best cash game poker player in the world.
David "Chip" Reese was born in Dayton, Ohio on March 28th, 1951. Highly intelligent, he succeeded at football,
debating and academics. His early successes lead him to be accepted by Harvard and Dartmouth Universities. He chose to
attend Dartmouth, where he continued to play football. Upon graduating, he was accepted into the Stanford University
Law Program. He intended to become a lawyer, but he never made it to Stanford.
Chip Reese started playing poker when he was very young. He used to play his fellow elementary school classmates for
baseball cards. He learned even more about poker from his mother. While being homebound for almost a year with Rheumatic
fever, his mother taught him all sorts of games, including variations of poker. Despite his early passion for poker, it
did not occur to him to become a professional player until a fateful summer in Las Vegas before he was to go to Stanford.
Chip entered a $500 tournament and won $60,000. That was enough to convince him that, monetarily speaking, he could be
more successful in poker than he could be at law.
And successful he was. It is estimated that Chip made more than $2 million dollars during his first two years of play.
He specialized in Seven Card Stud and was soon recognized by
Doyle Brunson as the best Seven Card Stud
player in the world. Reese earned some additional recognition after sharing the secrets of his success in Stud in Doyle’s
legendary poker bible, Super System. However, it is Chip’s unbelievable consistency at beating the highest cash games
in the world that really has earned him the respect of his peers.
Reese attributed his success to his ability to maintain emotional control at the poker table. He viewed poker as one long game,
and did not allow short term results to influence his decisions. He also believes that, to be successful in poker, you need
to add "gamble" to your game. He will often sit down a table where he doesn’t have an edge because of the possibility
a good game could develop. Similarly, he does not believe that the mathematically correct decision is always the best decision,
because a slightly worse decision could open the doors for a more profitable hand later in the game.
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Admirably, Chip balanced work with his family life, causing him to play less than when he was single. It was this desire to spend
more time with family that inspired him to develop a sports betting system. As a result, in later years he relied more on his sports
betting for income than poker.
When Chip passed away, his hometown newspaper, the Dayton Daily News published an obituary on their sports page. In
the article, friends fondly talked about Chip and one could get a true sense of the amazing man he was. His close friend,
Bill James said, "He cared more about his family than he did about poker, and that's what made him a great player."
Barry Greenstein said, "Chip was a schmoozer. He was an expert at getting people to love him, invite him over, play gin
rummy, ask him to dinner. You would lose your money to him, but you were happy doing it."
Some other quotes included:
"All great players, to a man, say Chip Reese without question was the best all-around poker player in history." --
"He could remember every card in three decks." -- Rick Pummill, close friend from Centerville High School and Dartmouth College
"Years ago I was talking to Chip about Stu Ungar, who died young at 43. I asked Chip if Stuey was the most talented player
he had ever seen. He said, 'Natural ability-wise, yes, he had the quickest mind. Stuey's problem is he doesn't understand
the object of the game, which is to accumulate wealth, improve your lifestyle and provide for your family.' " -- Mike Sexton
Chip Reese has three World Series of Poker Bracelets. He won the $1000 Seven Card Stud Split tournament in 1978, the $5000 Seven Card Stud
in 1982 and the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event and its $1.7 million first prize in 2006. Chip was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame at age 40.