The global poker community has lost one of its true icons following the passing of long-time World Poker Tour commentator, WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton on Sunday (US time).
Sexton, who had been battling prostate cancer, had spent the past month in home hospice in Las Vegas but only made his illness public late last week.
His passing was announced by good friend and fellow Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson who tweeted, “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.”
Sexton, 72, was widely considered to be the voice of televised poker, having spent 15 years commentating for the WPT from its inception in 2002 until his retirement in 2017. He was one of the founders of popular online poker site partypoker in 2001, where he subsequently served as an ambassador before being named Chairman in 2017.
He was also a highly-accomplished poker player, with career tournament earnings of almost US$7 million including a WSOP bracelet in 1989 and a WPT title in 2016.
Sexton was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2009, while the WPT earlier this year renamed its main tour trophy the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup.
His death saw tributes flow thick and fast, with WPT tournament director Matt Savage posting, “There comes a time in everyone’s life when more people we love pass away but this one really hurts. I loved him like a brother.”
Long-time poker pro David Williams tweeted, “Thank you for always being positive and kind. You changed my life and I’m sure most poker players would say the same.
“Hopefully you find a good game wherever you are now and may all of your cards be live and your pots be monsters.”
High stakes pro Jason Koon said, “Rest in peace, Mike Sexton. Without your influence and inspiration, many of us would have never made the plunge to playing poker for a living. We’ll see you on the other side, brother.”
The WPT also issued a press release in which CEO Adam Pliska expressed his sorrow at the news.
“Mike served as a WPT commentator for 15 seasons and spent a lifetime growing the game of poker around the globe,” Pliska said.
“His glowing presence resonated with players and fans of poker alike, who will all miss him onscreen and at the table. Mike’s legacy will forever be a part of poker’s history.”
Inside Asian Gaming was lucky enough to spend time with Sexton both on and off the felt, with CEO Andrew W Scott having sat with him while playing in the World Series of Poker and Managing Editor Ben Blaschke interviewing him at length for sister publication WGM in 2015. You can read that interview here.
As the voice who introduced poker to so many of today’s players – amateur and professional alike – Sexton transcended the game like few can. More importantly he was a universally loved figure, renowned for his authenticity and one of poker’s genuine nice guys.
Gone but not forgotten, he will be sorely missed.