WPT broadcasting legend Mike Sexton dies of prostate cancer

Jon Sofen
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Posted on September 7, 2020 1:58 pm EDT

Mike Sexton left the game of poker in a better place than he found it. The poker icon, following a bout of prostate cancer, peacefully passed away at home on Sunday evening.

Poker great Linda Johnson, his friend of over 30 years, spent time with Sexton during his final days. She informed the poker community of his passing on Twitter.

“Mike Sexton passed away peacefully at home earlier today surrounded by family members. He appreciated all the wonderful comments and farewells from poker players all over the world. Service details are forthcoming. For now, please keep his family in your thoughts as they grieve,” Johnson said.

Sexton spent his final month in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas. Last week, Mike Matusow hosted a special podcast episode to honor the poker icon. Dozens of poker pros called into the show to share their favorite memories of the late, great WPT announcer.

Speaking of the World Poker Tour, Sexton helped build that organization into a poker giant. For the past 19 years, Fox Sports (previously the Travel Channel) has been airing weekly episodes of WPT. Sexton spent the first 15 years in the broadcast booth with co-host Vince Van Patten. He then moved on in 2017 to an executive role at Partypoker, the poker site he co-created in 2001. Van Patten remained in the same position, but now with Tony Dunst as his co-host.

Sexton and Van Patten were arguably poker’s most iconic broadcast duo. Together, they brought the game into our homes for well over a decade. And they presented the game in a way that helped attract more than just hardcore pros, but also the casual audience.

Doing it the right way

Sexton leaves behind a legacy of a consummate professional on and off the felt. He always won and lost with class, and showcased poker in a positive light during WPT broadcasts. The 72-year-old refrained from being unfairly critical of players while commentating on WPT final tables. That just wasn’t his style.

Poker has lost a genuine icon, and one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. He’s largely responsible for all the six-figure sponsorship deals top pros received during the poker boom era. And he played a crucial role in turning poker into a mainstream game.

Sexton was ahead of his time. Years before Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event in 2003, and before poker went mainstream, Sexton envisioned the game becoming what it is today. He projected exponential growth in popularity, part of why he helped launch Partypoker in 2001, at a time when poker was only moderately popular.

His passion for poker was unmatched. He believed in the industry and did everything he could to grow the game, as many on social media said. Online poker legend Phil Galfond said it best on Twitter.

“What makes him the ultimate role model for me isn’t how much he accomplished & did for poker, but that he did it all while being positive and kind,” Galfond wrote.

Sexton won nearly $7 million in live poker tournaments. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2009.

Featured image source: Poker.org/Jon Sofen