– General Information –
David Edward “Chip” Reese was an American professional poker player. He was born on March 28th, 1951 in Centerville, OH. He passed away on December 4th, 2007.
Reese won 3 WSOP gold bracelets. In 2006, he won the first event in the World Series’ history that had a buy-in over $10,000, the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship. After his death, that trophy was named after him.
Despite his great WSOP victories, Reese is remembered as mainly a cash game player. In fact, many consider him the greatest cash game player of all time. He was a close personal friend of Doyle Brunson.
– Key Career Dates –
- 1974: He drops out of Stanford Law School to play poker for a living in Las Vegas.
- 1978: He wins his first WSOP gold bracelet in the $1,000 7-Card Stud Split event for $19,200.
- 1991: He gets inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. He was the youngest player to receive this honor at the time.
- 2006: He wins the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, the first tournament in WSOP history with a buy-in more than $10,000. He wins $1.785 million, which is his biggest single live tournament cash of his career.
- 2008: The trophy for the WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event gets posthumously named after him.
– Chip Reese’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Reese had always had an affinity for card games. According to his obituary published in the New York Times, he was beating 5th graders at card games at the age of 6.
At a young age, he had to be homeschooled for a year due to rheumatic fever. In that year, his mother taught him a number of card games, including bridge and poker.
He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College. After graduating, he got accepted to Stanford Law School.
After the first year of law school, he traveled to Las Vegas with $400 in his pocket. By the time the summer ended, he had over $100,000… Reese, much to his parents’ disapproval, did not want to go back to Stanford. Rather, he stayed in Las Vegas and played poker for a living.
He built up a bankroll of $1 million within two years.
→ Live Tournaments ←
Chip Reese cashed for $3.999 million in his career, according to Hendon Mob. That may not seem like a lot by today’s standards, especially given the longevity of his poker playing career. However, please note a couple of things.
First off, because it’s hard to keep track of tournament results from decades ago, some of his cashes aren’t tallied up. Also, the results are not adjusted to inflation; and Chip Reese always put more volume into cash games than tournaments.
That being said, his $4 million lifetime winnings are a result of 64 ITM finishes from a 30-year-long period.
Multiple sources online speak of a $400 tournament Reese won for $60,000 during his first summer in Las Vegas. However, that score is not on his Hendon profile. Also, that would have to have been an unusually large field for the 1970’s for Reese to be able to more than 100X his buy-in…
The first cash that does appear on his page is from the 1977 WSOP. The first result of his outside the WSOP is from the $10K event at the 1979 Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker. He came in 20th out of a field of 30 players packed with poker’s biggest stars at the time, and thus he didn’t cash.
In February 1982, however, he won the $10K Deuce to Seven Lowball tournament at the Super Bowl of Poker for $84,000.
In November 1984, he took down the $5,000 Limit 7-Card Stud tournament for $100,000 at Grand Prix of Poker at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. He also won the $1,000 Grand Prix of Poker No Limit hold’em tournament for $108,400 in 1987.
He has a runner-up finish from the $10K NLHE event at the Annual Diamond Jim Brady series from August 1989; as well as a $207,000 cash for finishing 4th in the $10,000 Main Event at the Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica in January 2004.
His biggest live tournament score outside the WSOP is from February 2004. He came in 5th in the $400,000 Grand Final of the PokerStars Invitational Tournament and bagged $250,000. That final table featured some of the biggest legends in poker history, such as Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson or Johnny Chan.
→ World Series Of Poker ←
Chip Reese is a 3-time WSOP gold bracelet winner.
He claimed his first World Series title in 1978. He won the $1,000 7-Card Stud Split event for $19,200. Four years later, in 1982, he took down the $5,000 Limit 7-Card Stud event for $92,500.
He also racked up 4 runner-up finishes. The biggest score out of those was in the $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball championship, for which he got $87,500. A year later, in 1989, he finished 3rd in the very same event, that time winning $46,500.
He also has two ITM finishes from the Main Event, a 26th place for $12,000 from 1993 and a 23rd place for $10,000 from 1989.
However, Reese’s legacy is most defined by his victory in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the 2006 World Series of Poker.
That was the first time the WSOP had an event with a buy-in over $10,000. They upped the ante quite a bit, 5X-ing their previous biggest events. Evidently, that record was broken over and over again by – the current “title holders” are the $1,000,000 One Drop events – but at the time, it generated a lot of buzz among poker fans around the world.
All of poker’s biggest names bought in for this tournament. Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey and of course, the hero of our story, Chip Reese.
Until the final table, all five game types that the acronym comprises – Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, 7-Card Stud and 7-Card Stud 8-or Better – were played. At the final table, however, only the most popular of poker games, No Limit Hold’em was dealt – a decision from the WSOP some criticized at the time.
In those unique circumstances, Chip Reese managed to beat the star-studded field. He won his 3rd bracelet in this historic event along with the $1.785 million cash first prize. Needless to say, that id the biggest single live tournament score in his career.
After his sad passing at just aged 56 in 2007, the World Series decided to name the trophy they give to the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. winner after Chip Reese. Scotty Nguyen was the first to take it down in 2008.
In 2010, the $50K H.O.R.S.E. transitioned into the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. However, the winner at the end still receives the famous Chip Reese trophy.
→ Live Cash Games ←
Reese is considered by many to be the greatest live cash game player of all time.
Unfortunately, he never played in front of the cameras of the legendary poker TV shows. He didn’t appear on NBC’s Poker After Dark or The Game Show Network’s High Stakes Poker.
He was a regular in the world’s most famous super high stakes cash game room, Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio.
So we don’t have any recordings of him playing live cash games. However, we can take the word of poker legends for it.
Here’s what his fellow Poker Hall of Fame member Jack Binion had to say about the late Reese in a short documentary produced by PokerGO in early 2019.
“He was the greatest cash player, probably overall of all time. If Chip had decided that he wanted to be a real good tournament player (…) he would’ve been one of the very, very top players. Chip could do anything and learn anything that he wanted to do.”
Mike Sexton added “I don’t think there’s one person that will not say Chip was the best all-around poker player of anyone ever”.