– General Introduction –
Mike Sexton was an American professional poker player and poker commentator. He was born on September 22nd, 1947 in Shelby, Indiana. He passed away on September 6th, 2020.
He is known throughout the poker community as a poker player, but better still, as a commentator and one of the greatest ambassadors the game ever had.
Sexton also wrote for CardPlayer Magazine, created the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions event, and has been inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2009.
His total tournament winnings of $6.7 million, 15 career cashes in WPT tournaments and one WSOP bracelet are proof that he was still a force to be reckoned with at the poker table up until his untimely death.
Quotes about Mike Sexton from other Poker Legends:
- Nolan Dalla: “Mike Sexton is simply one of the most important people in the history of the game.”
- Phil Hellmuth: “Love Mike Sexton. He has been one of the biggest ambassadors for poker we’ve ever had.“
- Daniel Negreanu: “He’s always put a good face on poker. He’s always been someone who promotes the game in a very very positive way.“
– Key Career Dates –
- 1989: He wins his first and only WSOP gold bracelet after finishing 1st in the $1,500 7-Card Stud Split event for $104,400.
- 2002: The first season of the World Poker Tour starts with him in the commentator booth from the first event.
- 2006: He finishes 1st in the WSOP Tournament of Champions for $1,000,000.
- 2012: He finishes 9th in the Big One For One Drop for $1,109,333. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career.
- 2016: He finishes 1st in the partypoker WPT Montreal Main Event for $317,817.
- 2017: He gets appointed as the Chairman of partypoker.
– Mike Sexton’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Michael Richard “Mike” Sexton grew up in Shelby, Indiana.
His parents got divorced when he was 4 years old and he and his brother lived with their mother, a dance teacher. They enjoyed attending their mom’s classes and learned to dance. On top of becoming a great dancer, Mike also excelled in gymnastics.
Poker was just around the corner, literally, as a neighbor’s kid taught him how to play at the age of 13. He learned a valuable lesson when he lost all a week’s well-earned pocket money in one game.
During his time at the Ohio State University, earning a degree in public recreation, he liked to joke that he actually majored in cards as he was playing all kinds of card games, including poker.
In 1970 he joined the U.S Army as a paratrooper, well knowing that he might be sent to Vietnam. He was lucky in the end and actually never saw combat. While he was in the army he earned some money teaching ballroom dancing.
After the two-year deployment, Saxton got married and moved to North Carolina to work as a salesman. A few years later, he realized that he was making more money playing local home games than in his sales job and he spent more and more time playing cards, which ultimately cost him his first marriage.
→ Making Poker a Profession ←
Now being a single man, Mike Sexton started traveling to Las Vegas in 1977 with all his net worth of $2,500 in his pocket.
Though he still lived in North Carolina, he went back and forth to Vegas more and more, and delivered good results.
When he played at his first World Series Of Poker in 1984, a tough decision was made. As he final tabled two of the three events he played, he promised himself to never miss a WSOP again in his life. So, he finally moved to Sin City permanently.
Sexton was known to have been close to Stu Ungar. So much so that he was a pallbearer and speaker at his funeral.
Right from the start, he had a feeling and a vision of the phenomenon that poker could become. He knew that someday in the near future, people would watch it on TV just like any other sport. His passion for the game made him the first ever player at the WSOP with a sponsorship deal.
He had a dream to create the Tournament of Champions in 1999, which only briefly lived, but this didn’t stop him.
As he was also writing for CardPlayer Magazine, he was in a great position to promote the game and the vision he had. This ultimately led to Sexton becoming a consultant at partypoker right at the start in 2001, during the creation of the software, and later he was made chairman.
He ultimately lost out on an estimated $500 million by selling his partypoker shares too early. Sexton does not regret his decision though and compares this to a poker hand, and as such, he avoids being results oriented.
In May 2017, he returned to his position as Chairman of partypoker.
He was also greeted with open arms to the World Poker Tour as a commentator where his vision became reality. Hole cards were introduced and poker became a better watchable sport on television.
At the height of his career, he had some struggles with a sports betting problem but he seems to have gotten that under control fairly well shortly.
Alongside others, he created the non-profit organization PokerGives.org to help make it easier for poker players to give to charity.
Playing a charity event tonight @FourSeasons in Las Vegas for The Nat’l Center for Missing & Exploited Children. First class event for a good cause. Just ♥️ poker tourn’s can help benefit those in need. pic.twitter.com/qidp9FzFrl
— Mike Sexton (@Mike_partypoker) January 11, 2019
→ Live Tournaments ←
Sexton has cashed for $6.7 million in live tournaments during his career, according to his Hendon page.
The first recorded cash on his page is from February 1981. He came in 3rd for $9,500 in a $1,000 Razz tournament at Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker.
The first time he made a score for over $100,000 was when he won his first and only WSOP gold bracelet. He took down the $1,500 7-Card Stud Split event for $104,000 at the 1989 World Series.
In November 2016, he won his first World Poker Tour title after being involved with the tournament series as a commentator for 14 years since its inception. He took down the C$3,850 Main Event at WPT Montreal for $317,817. Everybody at the WPT celebrated with him after his great victory,
Only a few months later, in February 2017, he came in 4th in the $10,000 WPT Championship Main Event at the L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, CA. He pocketed no less than $300,690 for that performance.
In 2006, he took down the WSOP Tournament of Champions, an invitational freeroll for WSOP bracelet holders, for $1 million. It was Sexton who came up with the concept of this tournament. It was held annually between 2004 and 2010.
In 2012, he made it to the final table and eventually finished 9th in the first-ever $1,000,000 WSOP Big One for One Drop high roller event for $1.109 million. That is the biggest single live tournament score of his career.
→ Late in His Life ←
At the age of 60, Sexton got married once again to Karen, a Bellagio hostess, and together they had a son.
On September 6th, 2020 he sadly passed away at the age of 72, after a long battle with prostate cancer.
- Twitter : https://twitter.com/mike_partypoker