By now, you have heard the news that Chip Reese passed a way earlier in the week. This was a shocker to many folks in the industry. At the time of his death, Chip Reese was still at the top of his game. He was considered one of the best all round poker players of all time and his peers regarded him as the best cash player. Period.
For thirty years, Reese crushed the games. Young guns and high rollers alike showed up in Las Vegas over the last three decades looking to take him down. He never ducked a game and was always willing to take on any challengers. And you know what? He almost always prevailed.
Reese didn't play too many tournaments because like most high stakes cash game players, tournaments are too time consuming. Simply put, they make more money playing cash games in a couple of orbits than you could in winning an entire tournament.
So when Reese played a tournament, it was a big deal. At least for me. After covering the poker circuit extensively the last three years, you see the same old faces. But Chip Reese was a face you did not see very often. I got to watch him play for the first time during the WSOP main event in 2005. Flipchip often mentioned that he was the best player that the public never heard of.
In 2006, Chip Reese won the inaugural $50K HORSE event proving to the world that he could win the biggest buy-in event in the history of the WSOP. Since he rarely appeared on televised poker programs, that was his coming out party. His final table will also go down in history as one of the toughest of all time.
The most amazing thing about his victory was that it was a game that he wasn't the best at. At the 2006 WSOP, the HORSE final table was changed to NL Hold'em. It was switched back this year, but the suits at Harrah's and ESPN felt that NLH was better for TV. Reese was an exceptional mixed game player, but NLH was not his best game. With Doyle and Ivey at his table, they were more favored to win the bracelet than Reese. Despite playing a game that was not his best, he emerged victorious during a marathon heads up match against Andy Bloch.
I fell asleep a lot during that magical night. I passed out in my car. I passed out in the media room. I passed out in the stands while sweating the final table. Reese did not tire one bit and eventually won.
Poker lost a legend this week. I was fortunate that I got to see him play live on a few instances. He always carried himself with class. Never trash talked. Never mugged for the cameras. He never berated his opponents. He never bragged about his abilities. He just played poker.
Flipchip posted a Chip Reese photo gallery. Feel free to use them, but please be kind and give Flipchip a linkback and attribution. Please include the following credit line: photos by flipchip • lasvegasvegas.com.
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