There are few legends of poker who can claim to have ridden out every era of the game and still been a success at the felt. Mike Sexton is one everyman who has traversed each part of poker history and come out the other side with profit in the form of millions of dollars and big titles. Mike Sexton isn’t just a WPT legend, he is a World Poker Tour Main Event winner and is now partypoker Chairman. Before poker, however, Mike Sexton had a life outside the game that would push his poker career into the stratosphere, and it is a life that few would believe outside Hollywood.
Watch the full story of Mike Sexton’s life, upbringing, high stakes gambling and poker on Pokerography on PokerGO.
Mike Sexton was a talented young man, but poker didn’t find him for many years. His first love when he was a young man was ballroom dancing and with both his parents being dancers so too was the young Sexton. He taught others to dance too, but before he could devote too much time to his talent, Sexton took to the skies – in the U.S. Air Force.
Being a soldier would have been one thing, but Sexton’s natural athleticism lent itself to a stint as a U.S. Paratrooper. From leaping around gymnasiums and twisting and dipping on the ballroom dancefloor, Sexton was throwing himself out of planes. In the U.S. Army, Sexton learned the ultimate discipline, formed strong bonds with his fellow soldiers and developed a natural rapport with everyone around him – key skills that would lead to a new and different career when he returned home. The game of poker would enter Mike Sexton’s life.
Excited for some throwback action? Check out Mike Sexton on Poker After Dark facing off against Jamie Gold, Antonio Esfandiari, Alan Boston, Paul Wascika, and Mike Matusow all the way back in Season 2.
Mike Sexton didn’t know it, but he was about to become a professional poker player during arguably the most exciting period of the game. As the World Series of Poker exploded onto the scene and the game grew, Sexton’s love of many different variants of the game saw him part of the poker ‘brat pack’. With his trademark grin and friendly, effervescent style, Sexton was a popular player and friend to many of the greats, learning from them all. One of his best friends was Stu Ungar a true ‘Legend of the Game’ who would redefine the term gifted.
Sexton won big, the first down-payments of a tournament poker career yielding $6.7 million in winnings coming his way, much of it in the heartbeat city of the game – Las Vegas. Sexton won his WSOP bracelet, taking the title in the 1989 Seven-Card Stud Split event, winning a six-figure score and a famous victory that will live forever in the annals of the game.
Over the course of the next 20 years, Sexton would win again and again, and not just at the table. Becoming part of the World Poker Tour presenting team felt like a natural home to the gregarious host and commentator. The natural enthusiasm that Sexton had for an anecdote married perfectly with live poker on prime-time television, and along with Vince Van Patten, Sexton became a TV legend.
Hear more from Mike Sexton on Real Talk as he joins Maria Ho to talk about the evolution of Poker on TV.
In 2009, Mike Sexton attained an accolade that few players have ever been acknowledged with – a place in the Poker Hall of Fame. As part of the World Poker Tour since 2002, Sexton had helped to crown many winners, and when he left the WPT in 2017, it was as difficult a decision as he had ever made.
This time, however, Sexton was heading home – to partypoker, where he played way back when the new poker brand sponsored a poker event on a cruise ship. Sexton took the role of partypoker Chairman and during the past three years has been an integral part of poker’s rebuilding after the events of Black Friday. Not only that, but he’s been bringing up the next generation of Sexton, his young son, who is a budding sportsman in his own right.
For Mike Sexton, poker is a huge part of his life, just as he is a huge part of poker history. Want to watch the best in archive action, classic clashes and straight outta Vegas streams? Subscribe to PokerGO today and you’ll be front and center for the greatest poker content in the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.