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Born in Centerville, Ohio, on March 28, 1951, Reese began playing poker at age 6, using baseball cards as chips.
He continued playing in high school. And he was such a formidable poker player in his fraternity house at Dartmouth College that when he graduated with a degree in economics in 1973 his classmates dedicated the card room in his honor.
Reese was planning to go to Stanford Law School when he and another phenomenal young poker player from Dayton, Ohio, Danny Robison, visited Las Vegas in 1974.
As recounted in a 1980 Washington Post story, Reese arrived in town with $400; and after slowly building his bankroll to $20,000 playing in moderate-stakes poker games, he joined a group of top gamblers playing hi-lo seven card stud at the Flamingo Hotel one night. He left the table with a $66,000 profit.
And, as the story goes, after arriving in Las Vegas for what was intended to be a weekend stay, Reese never left.
Over the years, he partnered with Brunson on nearly a dozen unsuccessful business ventures, including racehorses, TV stations, oil wells, mining and searching for the Titanic and Noah's Ark.
"We just took shots at everything," Brunson said. "Unfortunately, we always had to come back to poker to rescue ourselves."
In addition to his son, the recently divorced Reese is survived by his daughters, Taylor Reese and Brittney Shea; his sisters, Nancy Clark and Laurie Rockhold; and a grandson.