Poker Player Dies

Some Dies of Poker Players in 2007.

Poker player Reese dies at 56

LAS VEGAS—David "Chip" Reese, a card star who anchored one of the biggest cash games in the world and won three World Series of Poker bracelets, has died. He was 56.

Reese died in his sleep and was found by his son early Tuesday morning 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 business school 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 bracelets over the last four decades, including a $1.8 million HORSE event in 2005 that combines five poker disciplines, Reese focused his attention on high-stakes cash games away from the limelight.

"I've seen him with a million dollars in front of him," said Dalla, describing how Reese would put out racks of $5,000 chips "like he was betting a few bucks."

Reese was part of a generation of players in the 1970s that challenged established greats like Brunson, Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston Jr. and Walter Clyde "Puggy" Pearson, Dalla said.

Brunson and Reese eventually became business partners, investing in everything from oil wells and mining to TV stations and racehorses and becoming sports betting consultants.

None of the ventures was successful, Brunson said.

"We went to look for the Titanic. We went to look for Noah's Ark. We were two of the biggest suckers whenever it came to business, but we both had poker to fall back on," Brunson said. "Thank God we could play, so we always survived."

Reese's prowess at both cash and tournament play was cemented with his 2005 win, said World Series of Poker commissioner Jeffrey Pollack.

"Many consider Chip the greatest cash-game player who ever lived," Pollack said in a news release. "His victory in the inaugural $50,000 buy-in HORSE championship ... made him a part of WSOP lore forever."

Reese is survived by a son, a daughter and a stepdaughter, Brunson said. He was recently divorced from his wife.

Services are planned for Friday in Las Vegas, Brunson said.

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Poker player killed at Panorama Towers

Poker player William Gustafik was stabbed to death, allegedly, by his wife Jill Rockcastle in their subleased condo at the newly opened $2 billion aqua blue Panorama Towers (pictured above), where other condos are owned by Pamela Anderson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire. Panorama is located on the west side of the I-15 and showed their model outside of last year's World Series of Poker.

According to Bluff, Gustafik earned over $30,000 from poker tournaments in August-December 2006. In March, he won $80,000 in the WPT Shooting Star at Bay 101.

Formerly a chiropractor, Gustafik recently switched to playing poker professionally.

Gustafik's wife is in custody in San Luis Obispo, California, where police found her unconscious.

Gustafik leaves behind a 9-year-old daughter from a different marriage.

No motive is yet known.

Poker's Legend, Puggy Pearson dies at 77.


One of poker's most colorful characters died Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas. Puggy Pearson was one on the legends of the game and is generally credited with developing the concept of modern tournament poker. While playing in some marathon games in Reno he proposed the format and coined the term "freeze-out" to describe his idea of all players starting with the same amount of chips and playing until only one player remained holding all the money. The idea was carried south to Benny Binion and his Horseshoe Casino and the World Series of Poker was born.


Over the ensuing years Puggy, born Walter Clyde Pearson, continued to demonstrate his prowess at the poker tables and in 1973 he won the 4th annual World Series of Poker Championship at Binion's Horseshoe and pocketed the $130,000 winner-take-all prize money. Puggy took his place in the Poker Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1987. Puggy continued to win WSOP events and collected three more WSOP bracelets to add to his collection. Puggy also won the 1982 Super Bowl of Poker in Reno.


During the seventies and eighties you would always find Puggy in the highest level cash games and he was a fixture at the annual World Series of Poker event at Binion's Horseshoe in the spring. Puggy would be giving poker lessons at the single table satellites usually surrounded by a blue cloud of smoke from his ever present cigar (players smoked at the tables back then). Between puffs on the fat stogie he would maintain a continuous stream of verbage directed at the cards, other players and dealers with no topic being off-limits. More than once his constant barrage would have dealers in tears and players too rattled to play their game. I had the opportunity to play at two of the satellites and got heads-up with the poker legend. The first time I was so awe struck sitting across the table from Mr. Poker that Puggy quickly and easily "talked" me out of my chips. The second time, a different year, I made a better accounting of myself, knew better than to listen to his constant talk, singing and criticism of my play and when he said he felt sorry for me and offered a split, I quickly accepted. On another occasion when the Las Vegas Hilton was holding satellites for the WSOP Main Event, I made a final table that included Puggy and I eliminated him on the first hand with pocket Aces.


Pearson was known for his antics at the table and he was not always the most popular player, especially with the dealers. He would say what was on his mind and was quick to take advantage of anything that gave him the slightest edge. He once told me that he was responsible for more poker dealers getting a real job outside of poker than anyone else. He was also known for his outrageous costumes that he donned for most WSOP events. One year he was a Viking with horned helmet, another he was an American Indian in full regalia including plenty of feathers, and my favorite, a three or four foot tall hat that resembled the trunk of a tree complete with a knothole and an actual mounted squirrel. Today's characters of poker are tame compared to Puggy in his prime. Of course, there were not so many rules for table etiquette and certainly no time outs back then.


We'll miss the outrageous character that was Puggy Pearson, we'll miss those incredible stories of pokers earlier days and we'll miss his serenading the table with his original theme song, "The Roving Gambler," including the Puggy trademark line, "I'll play any man from any land any game that he can name for any amount that I can count...providing I like it." He sang his song for the last time at the 2005 WSOP final table to a standing ovation. A memorial service is planned for monday at 11:00 AM at the Bellagio Resort in the Da Vinci room.

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Some Dies of Poker Players

Some Dies of Poker Players in 2007.