Mike Sexton is best known as the host of the World Poker Tour – but he is so much more. An author, commentator, promoter and player, Sexton is widely regarded as the chief ambassador in the game today.
Before getting involved in poker, Sexton attended Ohio State University on a gymnastics scholarship and received a degree in Public Recreation. After graduating, he served in the Army as a paratrooper for three years before getting married in North Carolina and working jobs as a military recruiter and ballroom dance instructor. It was then Sexton began playing poker at home games and shortly after decided to quit his job and make the jump to play professionally in 1977.
By 1985, Mike Sexton was a polished pro and took his talent to Las Vegas. He etched his name in poker history four years later by winning a World Series of Poker bracelet in a 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo event for $104,400.
As of 2008, Mike Sexton has accumulated 44 cashes at the World Series of Poker, good for 10th most all-time. His most recent came in the 2008 $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship. Sexton took fourth place for $248,160 at a hard-hitting final table that included Andy Bloch, Kathy Liebert, Patrik Antonius, Amit Makhija and champion Nenad Medic.
Other significant scores in his career include wins in the 1996 Four Queens Poker Classic for $112,000, the 2000 Euro Finals of Poker for $169,657 and the 2006 Tournament of Champions at the World Series of Poker for $1,000,000. Mike Sexton outlasted Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Gus Hansen at the Tournament of Champions final table to earn his biggest payday to date.
Sexton’s success on the felt and his all-around pleasant nature have allowed him to pursue other ventures within the game. Steve Lipscomb created the World Poker Tour in 2002 and brought on Sexton, Vince Van Patten and Shana Hiatt to deliver coverage to poker enthusiasts on the Travel Channel. Despite a slow launch, the show is a key reason behind the enormous growth of poker in the last decade.
Around the same time the WPT was formed, Mike Sexton became the face of Party Poker. He was plastered all over television as the online site advertised on practically every poker show aired. It was this type of exposure that helped Sexton become one of the most recognizable faces in poker.
Sexton has also written articles for Cardplayer magazine and Gambling Times, and published a book, Shuffle Up and Deal, which offers poker instruction for novice players. In addition, Sexton contributed to Nolan Dalla’s One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey “The Kid” Ungar. Sexton was a long-time friend of Ungar, believed by many veteran players to be the best to ever play the game.
In what has become a tradition on the World Poker Tour, Mike Sexton toasts the winner of the tournament with champagne (formerly beer.) The poker world should toast Sexton for his long list of accomplishments, which will no doubt continue to grow in time.