Mike Sexton spent a full 14 years calling the action at World Poker Tour final tables and served as face of the franchise before he had his winner’s picture taken. Sexton pulled double duty playing many events on the tour, but the win always avoided him. Timing, talent and a stroke of luck landed Sexton on the other side broadcast, playing for his first WPT title at Playground Poker Club in November 2016.

The WPT heads back to Playground a couple months after Sexton’s win and he’s looking forward to playing. “Defending one’s title is something everyone dreams about that has that opportunity, but something that has been done very infrequently over the past 50 years,” Sexton said.

“I can remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was nearly 30 years ago, when I was heading across the street to defend my Seven Card Stud Eight or Better title at the ’90 WSOP, Stu Ungar gave me chills as he said to me, ‘Sexton, anybody can win a poker tournament. Defending is where it’s at,’” said Sexton.

Sexton’s win is so fresh that he hasn’t seen any of the footage. “I was pleased with the majority of my play, especially fighting so hard on the short stack heads up,” Sexton said. “I was short in 155 of the 157 hands we played. I am looking forward to seeing the show as I know who wins.”

Having Sexton at the final table threw a wrinkle into production for the WPT. “They are a well-oiled machine, they are phenomenal,” Sexton said of the crew. “Tony Dunst took my place in the booth and I’m confident that he and Vince did a great job.”

“I love working with Vince in the booth,” Sexton added. “But I must say that it’s a lot more fun, and profitable, playing at the final table of a WPT event.”

“I wish I could tell you that I made a thousand moves and picked off every attempted bluff in the tournament, but the truth is, that wasn’t the case,” said Sexton. “The difference was that I was very lucky in this tournament where I drew out for my tournament life when I was all in on several occasions. For example, with 46 players left, I hit a one-outer to triple up to stay alive and it looked like I was destined to win. It was just my time.”

“It really made me happy to win as I’m now eligible to play in the WPT Tournament of Champions,” said Sexton. “I sent my son Ty a picture of the championship belt before the tournament started. He thought the belt was so cool and said, ‘Dad, I want you to win that.’”

“I said, ‘Ty, it’s very hard to win these tournaments but I’ll try my best.’ After I won, I gave him the belt – and nothing made me feel better than that.”