http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/07/sports/07reese.html December 7, 2007 Chip Reese, High-Stakes Card Champion, Is Dead at 56 By DOUGLAS MARTIN Chip Reese, whose mix of intellect, poise and nerve propelled him to renowned eminence among the minuscule club of humans who convene to wager millions on poker games, died Tuesday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 56. His friend Doyle Brunson, also a renowned poker player, said Reese, whose birth name was David, appeared to have died of a heart attack after learning he had pneumonia the same day. At age 6, Reese was beating fifth-graders at card games. He so dominated poker play at his Dartmouth fraternity that it named the card room after him. He was admitted to Stanford Law School but gave up plans to go there after stopping in Las Vegas and turning $400 into $66,000. His placid sans-souci mien was a professional gamblerâs dream. âI can bet $100,000 and feel nothing,â he said in an interview with People magazine in 2003. âIf you think about the money and what it means, youâre gone.â Reese won three World Series of Poker events, the crown jewels of tournament poker, but his preference was for high-stakes private games with high rollers. Even as better-known poker players appeared under bright lights for television, he lurked off camera in games with considerably more remunerative potential. âMany consider Chip the greatest cash player who ever lived,â said Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the World Series of Poker. Brunson, who billed himself as Texas Dolly in winning 10 World Series events, added that Reese was âarguably the best poker player who ever lived.â The two played regularly at Bobbyâs Room in the Bellagio Hotel in an event called The Big Game, in which $100,000 buys a seat and $2 million can be won or lost. Reese became the 19th person inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1991, the third living player and the youngest. In his last years, Reese played publicly only so his children could see him on television. In 2006, he entered a new World Series event that required professionals to play five separate poker games, rather than only Texas Holdâem, the usual televised game. Organizers reasoned that playing Omaha, Razz, seven-card stud and Eight or better Hi-Lo â in addition to Holdâem â would determine a true champion. Reese defeated Andy Bloch in a tense, seesaw match that lasted more than seven hours. David Edward Reese was born on March 28, 1951, in Centerville, Ohio, and attributed his later success to contracting rheumatic fever during his first year of elementary school. His mother stayed at home and taught him card games. Once he was well, he won almost every baseball card in the neighborhood. In high school, he played football and debated, winning an Ohio state championship and advancing to the national finals. At Dartmouth, he vanquished professors as well as students at bridge and gin rummy as well as poker. It was in 1974 that Reese visited Las Vegas with $400 in his pocket and slowly built his bankroll to $20,000 in moderate-stakes poker games. One evening at the Flamingo Hotel, he decided he could beat the high rollers at seven-card stud, his game. He left with $66,000 and the beginning of a reputation. His first World Series victories were in 1978 and 1982. Reese also won big and regularly in other forms of gambling including backgammon, chess and sports betting; he and Brunson also ran a successful sport-betting tout service for a time, until the Security Exchange Commission tightened rules for 900 phone numbers. They were less lucky at other kinds of business partnerships. Among their failures: oil wells, mining ventures, racehorses and expeditions to find jewels in Africa, raise the Titanic and find Noahâs ark. A betting system they devised for baseball was wildly successful for them. People magazine reported that Reese owned a 13,000-square-foot home in Las Vegas, an oceanfront condo in Santa Monica (âbecause I play in L.A. a lotâ), and a lakeside spread in Montana. Brunson said Reese gave generously to charity, but never discussed it. Reese was recently divorced from the former Noralene Boyer. He is survived by his daughter, Taylor Reese; his son, Casey; his stepdaughter, Brittney Shea; his sisters, Nancy Clark and Laurie Rockhold; and a step-grandson. Like many gamblers, Reese bet on everything conceivable. When he and Brunson decided to lose weight, they bet $50,000 on who could diet best. Reese promptly gained 17 pounds, which The Washington Post in 1980 said proved how little $50,000 means in Las Vegas. Unlike many gamblers, Reese could leave a table when he was losing: he was once $700,000 behind when he left to watch his sonâs Little League game.