Tuesday, December 11, 2007

R.I.P. Chip Reese (1951 - 2007)

Poker great David "Chip" Reese died of a heart attack at age 56 last week (as usual we're breaking the story).

Some facts about Chip Reese:
  • The casual fan has most likely never heard of Reese. Although he played for years in the biggest cash games in the world, he preferred to avoid the spotlight (for the most part, spotlight = tournaments). This was mostly due to the fact that a) he cut his teeth in a Las Vegas with a heavy mob influence; a town in which you tried your best to hide your winnings, and b) he's always found the cash games more profitable (I once read a story about Chip using the dinner break of one of the rare tournaments he played to jump in a cash game. He won a pot in the game that was bigger than first prize for the tourney). He entered a few tournaments later in his career for his children, who wanted to see him on TV.
  • Reese went to Las Vegas in the early 70's on his way to Stanford Business School after graduating from Dartmouth. He arrived with $400 and planned to stay the weekend. After 5 weeks he and a partner had built their bankroll up to $60,000. It was at this point that he noticed some of the best of the best (Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson, Johnny Moss) playing a game of Stud Hi Lo Split. Having played a lot of this game in college, he noticed that the pros weren't playing that well - at least he thought he could beat them. He convinced his partner to let him take most of the bankroll into the game (the minimum buy-in was $30,000). He bought in on Thursday afternoon and didn't leave until Sunday night. With $364,000. Suffice to say, he never made it to Stanford.
  • Many of the top pros consider Chip to be one of the best players to have ever lived.
  • He was known for his ability to keep his cool. He had excellent "steam control". He also knew how to push it when he was winning (it wasn't unheard of for him to play multi-day sessions), and leave when he was losing (he once left a game when he was $700,000 behind to go see his son's Little League game).
  • I heard Reese tell the story of his longest session ever - 5 days. At the end of the marathon session, he called his girlfriend up to cash his winnings and drive him home. As he hit the winter air on the way out to the car, he got a 16th wind and took his girlfriend out to dinner and a movie.
  • He had a 13,000 sq ft house in Las Vegas (as well as other homes around the country).
  • For all his success in poker, he and Brunson had many business ventures together that failed. Fortunately for them, they always had poker.
  • He won the 2006 H.O.R.S.E. tournament. H.O.R.S.E. stands for limit Hold'em, pot-limit Omaha, Razz, Stud, stud Eight or better. The games rotated every 40 minutes. The diversity in games as well as the $50,000 buy-in made for probably the most elite tournament field of the year. 1st prize netted him $1.8 million.

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