The World Poker Tour created a touching video that chronicled the life of long-time WPT host Mike Sexton, the poker legend and Hall of Famer who passed away earlier this week.
Sexton’s legacy will live on forever in poker. He left quite an imprint on the game, which you’ll learn about in the eight-minute video.
Sexton was born in Indiana on September 27, 1947, but grew up in Dayton, Ohio. Naturally, the kid from Ohio went on to attend The Ohio State University where he became a die-hard Buckeyes fan. While in college, the future poker icon joined the gymnastics team.
After graduating from Ohio State, the patriotic Sexton joined the U.S. Army and served as a paratrooper for the 82nd infantry. When his service was up in 1970, he took on a job in sales, a skill he would use to his advantage later in life. But he realized sales wasn’t his true calling. Instead, playing poker for a living was the career path he was destined for.
In 1977, Sexton began his career as a professional poker player. Along his path, he became close friends with some of the best to ever play the game, including Doyle Brunson and the late Stu Ungar.
More than just a poker player
Sexton won his first and only World Series of Poker bracelet in 1989 in the $1,500 Limit Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event. In the 1990s, he began focusing as much on the business and promotion side of the game as he did playing cards.
The Ohio native, as the video explains, masterminded the WSOP Tournament of Champions event, a tournament he won in 2006 for $1 million. At the final table, he defeated the two-time defending champion Daniel Negreanu.
Sexton has a vision for poker that most didn’t have in the 1990s, back when being a poker pro wasn’t considered glamorous like it is today. He envisioned poker players receiving six-figure sponsorship deals one day, a prediction that was spot on.
The poker pro co-founded Partypoker in 2001, a poker site that is still one of the best in the world 19 years later. Sexton left Partypoker a few years later, but returned as Chairman in 2017.
In 2002, Mike was hired by Steve Lipscomb to partner with Vince Van Patten — the son of actor Dick Van Patten — to co-host a start-up poker TV show called the World Poker Tour.
At that point in time, poker still hadn’t gone mainstream. It wasn’t a highly popular game although it was growing thanks in large part to the efforts of pros such as Sexton.
Sexton had to use those sales skills he learned many years prior to sell the WPT to potential host casinos. He clearly did an incredible job because the World Poker Tour is still going strong 19 years later.
Sexton served as co-host with Van Patten for the first 15 seasons before leaving to return to Partypoker’s board room. He became one of the most popular broadcasters in poker history. World Poker Tour events are still televised regularly on Fox Sports.
The former commentator even won his own WPT title in 2016 at the Partypoker.net WPT Montreal. Sexton, a 2009 Poker Hall of Fame inductee, passed away at age 72 on September 6, 2020.
Featured image: Twitter/Lynn Gilmartin