the "ambassador of poker"
Poker Hall of Famer and Legend Mike Sexton orchestrated a lot of what poker is today. Through his vision, tenacity, dedication and influence, poker players around the world enjoy poker and all it has to offer, at every level. The following is a little about Mike, his life and his career.
Mike Sexton, an American professional poker player and poker commentator was born on September 22nd, 1947 in Shelby, Indiana.
In his early years, he was a gymnast at Ohio State University. He earned a degree in public recreation and his time in college is where he began to play poker more seriously. He also played contract bridge and taught classes on it in North Carolina.
Mike entered the U.S. Army as a paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in 1970. While he was in the army, he taught ballroom dancing and one of his clients convinced him to try being a salesman, which he continued to do after his two-year enlistment was up. After a while, he realized that he could make more money playing poker than being a salesman, so he took up poker professionally in 1977.
Mike played poker at every level and he formed life long friendships with some of poker’s elite. He has enjoyed playing and being a part of the lives of Stu Unger, Chip Reese, Doyle Brunson and so many more.
Always looking to expand poker he wrote for CardPlayer Magazine, created the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, and when online poker began, he became a consultant for partypoker during the creation of the software, and later he was made chairman. He also helped them create the Party Poker Million, the first Million Dollar Guarantee live poker tournament.
Mike’s mission of making Poker a “respected sport everyone would want to play” became a reality when he became the commentator of the World Poker Tour. Poker was watched in living rooms all over the world and Mike was a household name.
Over his poker career, Mike amassed $6.7 million in live tournaments from events that are recorded.
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.
As the creator of the WSOP Tournament of Champions, the invitational freeroll for WSOP bracelet holders held annually between 2004 and 2010, Mike won it in 2006. The freeroll gave the winner a $1,000,000 prize for first place.
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.
In November 2016, he realized one of his dreams – to win a World Poker Tour title. He did so after being a commentator for 14 years. He won the WPT Montreal for $317,817 and it was as if “one of their own” graduated to the highest levels.
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 to take home a whopping $300,690 purse.
Although Mike had amazing successes in his lifetime, he would always say his greatest joy came from the birth of his son Ty in 2010. Sadly, their time together was short lived as Mike passed away from a battle with prostate cancer September 6th, 2020.
His larger than life memory will live on in poker and now with the Mike Sexton All American Poker Circuit he’ll be honored with a legacy.