It takes skill to earn the respect of big-wave riders in Oahu, Hawaii. Locals there nicknamed Monterey, Calif., surfing icon Peter Davi the "Outer Reef Chief" for his fearlessness. One of the now legendary surf spots he helped popularize is Ghost Trees, near California's famed Pebble Beach golf course, where Davi drowned Dec. 4 while trying to tackle 70-footers with friends. He was 45.

Before heading to Stanford law school, David (Chip) Reese, widely considered the best all-around poker player in the world, visited Las Vegas, turned his $400 into $66,000, and discovered his true calling. Famously even-tempered, the Dartmouth graduate went...

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