David "Chip" Reese,
whose plans for a Stanford University business school degree were sidetracked by his success at high-stakes poker in Las Vegas, died in his sleep. He was 56.
Reese was found by his son early Tuesday at his Las Vegas home after suffering from symptoms of pneumonia, said poker great Doyle Brunson, his longtime friend.
"I knew him for 35 years, I never saw him get mad or raise his voice," Brunson said. "He had the most even disposition of anyone I've ever met. He's certainly the best poker player that ever lived."
After attending Dartmouth College, Reese was on his way to Stanford in the early 1970s when he stopped by a Las Vegas poker room and won big, said World Series of Poker media director Nolan Dalla.
"He just accidentally stumbled into Las Vegas and never left," Dalla said.
His immediate success at cash games and low-key persona won him friends, even among those who wound up passing him their chips.
Despite winning three World Series champion bracelets over the last four decades, including a $1.8 million HORSE event in 2005 that combines five poker disciplines, Reese focused on high-stakes cash games away from the limelight.
"Many consider Chip the greatest cash-game player who ever lived," said Jeffrey Pollack, World Series of Poker commissioner.
In addition to his son, Reese is survived by a daughter and a stepdaughter, Brunson said. He was recently divorced.
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