Every player has a different playstyle, specialty, and personality, making competitive poker a cornucopia of exciting stories. One such tale is that of an old poker pro lauded for his cash game skills: Chip Reese. 

Player Overview

David “Chip” Reese was an American professional poker player widely regarded as one of the best cash game players. He was a regular at some of poker’s most legendary cash games, including The Big Game at the Bellagio, playing at ludicrously high stakes ranging from $800/$1,600 to $4,000/$8,000. 

He has won just shy of $4 million in tournament earnings and three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets. While Reese is a fantastic Texas Holdem player, he was regarded by his peers as the best Seven Card Stud player of all time. So good, he wrote the chapter about it in Doyle Brunson’s Super/System, a popular poker strategy book among enthusiasts. 

Reese won the first WSOP $50,000 HORSE event, now known as the Poker Player’s Championship. It’s one of the WSOP’s most prestigious events with its high skill floor and large buy-in which dissuades all but the most serious players.

For all his contributions, Reese was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1991.

Early Life

David Edward Reese was born on March 28, 1951, in Dayton, Ohio. In his early years, he developed rheumatic fever and had to be kept home from school for most of kindergarten. His mom homeschooled him and also taught him how to play many board and card games, which of course included poker.

Reese brought his knowledge back to his friends where he played poker for baseball cards and then later, in high school, for small amounts of cash. He quickly established a reputation for his prowess and was rumored to be nearly unbeatable. 

Chip was athletic, known to be a talented football player. He was also mentally sharp away from the poker table and was on the school debate team, winning the Ohio State Debate Championships and making it to the national finals. He was accepted into Harvard but declined it in favor of an economics course at Dartmouth College, where he played so much poker that the campus card room was later renamed in his honor.

Poker Career

Reese initially planned to study law at Stanford University, but one fateful trip to Las Vegas forever altered the course of his life. He went to visit a friend, bringing $400 with him. It was Vegas, so he opted to try his hand at a few rounds of blackjack. He lost it all. 

The following day, he took up a job to recover his losses and to fund him as he played low-stakes Seven Card Stud. Over the summer, Reese honed his skills and inflated his bankroll enough to join a $500 buy-in tournament at the Sahara Casino, winning the $50,000 first-place prize. From there, he continued building his poker funds and it wasn’t long before he doubled it again to $100,000.

He began playing regularly with a fellow Ohioan named Danny Robison. Reese also duked it out with well-known characters like Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson and Johnny Moss in cash games that lasted several days. Reese kept building up his bankroll with another $300,000 in profit and began learning other game types like Hold’em.

Chip Reese was mostly a cash game player, but also had a notable tournament career, earning two WSOP bracelets in Seven Card Stud back in 1978 and 1982. 

Fellow American professional poker player, Barry Greenstein, described Reese as “a family man like nobody else in poker.” There is even an old story of Reese leaving a cash game, despite being down $700,000. Most people would stay and try to recover the losses, but Reese left to watch his son’s little league game, instead.

Comeback and Legacy

Reese’s love for his family got him back into tournaments. His kids wanted to watch him on television, so in 2004, he started playing more in the popular WSOP and WPT games. 

From October 2004 to June 2007, Reese scored eleven major cashes in the WSOP, World Poker Tour, and other tournaments. His most notable was the 2006 HORSE win, netting him $1,784,640. 

With this, he cemented himself as one of the best all-around poker players. Proficient at nearly every form of the game, he was also one of the most respected members of the poker community.

Mike Sexton spoke highly of him, “Most of us, especially old-school players like myself, feel that Chip is the greatest all-around poker player that ever lived. That’s especially true when it came to playing multiple games. We were so happy to see him win the $50,000 HORSE tournament. It certified his status as the best all-around player.” 

The poker community loved Reese for his skill and gentlemanly attitude at the table. He never tilted or got angry like some other pros. 

Chip was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1991. After his death in 2007, the WSOP’s $50,000 HORSE event provided the winner with the “David ‘Chip’ Reese Memorial Trophy,” given as an additional prize. In 2010, this trophy was offered to the winner of The Poker Player’s Championship, which is an expanded version of the previous event.

After Reese’s passing, Brunson said, “He’s certainly the best poker player who ever lived.”