Poker Legend Chip Reese Known for His Mathematical Skills and Aggression

Written By Janice Doughtrey

David “Chip” Reese was an American poker player who gained renown not only for his extraordinary skill but also for his mathematical acumen and aggressive gameplay. Born in Centerville, Ohio, in 1951, Reese’s life would be a series of high stakes, both on and off the poker table.

The Formative Years

Chip Reese discovered poker in his early years, becoming immediately captivated by its strategic elements. He initially attended Dartmouth College, where he intended to follow the path of law, but fate had other plans. On a trip to Las Vegas, he won a significant sum playing poker and decided to forgo law school to become a professional player.

The Poker Rooms of Las Vegas

Reese swiftly rose to prominence in Las Vegas. Unlike many professionals who specialized in one form of poker, Reese was known for his versatility. His skill set extended to Seven-Card Stud, Omaha, and various forms of Lowball, although he is best known for his prowess in Seven-Card Stud.

Mathematical Mastery

What set Chip Reese apart was his ability to apply mathematical concepts to his game. He used probabilities and odds to make calculated decisions, often confounding opponents who relied solely on instinct or bluffing. Reese’s precise, methodical approach became a significant aspect of his success.

Aggressiveness as a Strategy

In addition to his mathematical skill, Reese was known for his aggressive play. He understood the psychological element of poker and often put his opponents on the defensive. His ability to balance mathematical precision with aggressive tactics made him a formidable opponent and earned him a reputation as one of the most challenging players to face.

Tournament Success and High-Stakes Cash Games

Although Chip Reese never focused heavily on tournaments, preferring the allure of high-stakes cash games, he still left his mark. He won three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, solidifying his status as a poker legend.

A Multi-Faceted Individual

Reese was not just a poker player; he was also a successful businessman. In later years, he branched out into other business ventures, including real estate, which contributed to his already impressive fortune.

Hall of Fame and Legacy

Chip Reese’s enduring impact on the game was acknowledged in 1991 when he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame at the age of 40, making him one of the youngest players ever to receive this honor. His analytical mind and aggressive tactics continue to serve as a learning ground for new generations of poker enthusiasts.

The Memorable Hands of Chip Reese

The 1991 $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw Tournament

In a legendary match-up during the 1991 WSOP, Chip Reese faced off against the prominent Doyle Brunson in the $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw event. The hand became iconic for the bluffs and re-bluffs that ensued. Reese finally took down the pot with a draw to a 7-low, outplaying Brunson in a battle of wits. This hand wasn’t just memorable for its outcome; it became a masterclass on the importance of timing, position, and table image.

The 2006 H.O.R.S.E. Event Hand Against Andy Bloch

During the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the 2006 WSOP, Reese found himself heads-up against Andy Bloch in a pot-limit Omaha round. Reese flopped a straight and went all-in, and Bloch called with a set. Reese’s straight held up, and he took down a pivotal pot that helped him ultimately win the tournament. The hand showcased his willingness to put his chips in the middle when he believed he had the best of it, a characteristic trait of his fearless style of play.

Reese and the 2004 $1,000,000 Cash Game

One of the lesser-known but truly remarkable hands involved Reese in a high-stakes cash game back in 2004, where he was up against another unnamed poker titan. Reese found himself on the favorable end of a straight flush. His opponent, holding a lower flush, pushed all-in, only to be immediately called by Reese. The pot was worth around $1,000,000 and further cemented his reputation as a high-stakes crusher.

Why These Hands Are Significant

Each of these hands was memorable not just for the substantial sums of money involved but also for what they revealed about Reese’s strategic brilliance. They showcased his understanding of pot odds, risk assessment, and psychological maneuvering—elements that are indispensable in high-level poker. These hands collectively contribute to why Reese is often considered one of the best cash game players of all time.

The hands mentioned also depict Reese’s unique ability to switch gears and adapt to his opponents’ styles. Whether he was facing off against legends like Doyle Brunson or newer talents like Andy Bloch, Reese never lost his composure, and his gameplay was consistently agile and unpredictable.

Death and Posthumous Recognition

Sadly, Chip Reese passed away unexpectedly in 2007. His death was a significant loss to the poker community, but his legacy lived on. In 2008, the WSOP introduced the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event trophy, named the “David ‘Chip’ Reese Memorial Trophy,” as a tribute to his contributions to the game.


Chip Reese was a trailblazer, revolutionizing the way poker is played with his mathematical and aggressive approach. His untimely death was a loss not just for those who knew him but also for the game he loved. Nevertheless, his influence persists, and the strategies he developed continue to be studied and admired.