Poker Legend Mike Sexton Passes Away Aged 72

Poker legend Mike Sexton passed away this week after a battle with prostate cancer

The poker community is in mourning after learning of the passing of the legendary Mike Sexton. Sexton passed away with his loved ones at his bedside after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 72-years-old.

Sexton was one of the very few members of the poker world deserving of the legend title. Poker players overuse this term, but Sexton was the epitome of a legendary figure. Everyone in poker owes Sexton a huge debt of gratitude for what he did for this crazy game.

The 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army is where Sexton began his early life. He was a keen gymnast in his youth and always dreamed of jumping out of aeroplanes! Fort Bragg in North Carolina is where Sexton was stationed for a couple of years.

Poker was always a game Sexton played, especially throughout college. He often joked that he majored in cards because of the sheer amount of poker he played. Sexton continued playing poker while he tried his arm at several jobs. Gymnastics, ballroom dancing, and even a role as a salesman were jobs Sexton had. Playing cards, however, remained Sexton’s passion.

Sexton Heads To Las Vegas For His First WSOP

Las Vegas is a city where dreams are realised and dashed in equal measure. Sexton was winning more money from playing poker locally that he did in his various jobs so decided to take a shot at being a professional poker player. It’s a decision that paid off handsomely.

His first trip to Vegas for a World Series of Poker was successful. He finished fifth in a $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event and sixth in a $1,000 Seven-Card Stud. These deep runs convinced him he should move to “Sin City”, which he did in January 1985.

Sexton was an ever-present at the WSOP and the series was kind to him. He racked up 73 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP and earned $2,653,285. Sexton won his one and only bracelet in 1989, finishing first in a $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event.

Eleven years ago, Sexton was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. He’s now immortalised among greats such as Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, Chip Reese, and Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott. The World Poker Tour recently changed the name of it’s trophy to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup. It’s a fitting tribute for a great man.

His Legacy Is There For All To See

Many credit Chris Moneymaker as the man who started the online poker boom. That is true to some degree but Sexton is the man who started it all.

He was one of the founders of partypoker. He was instrumental in getting the site off the ground and building it into a gambling giant. The legend created such concepts as the Tournament of Champions and online satellites.

He convinced the partypoker bosses to run the Million in 2002. The tournament was the first to feature a $1 million top prize and took place on a lavish cruise ship. The tournament cost the company more than $500,000 but Sexton’s vision saw it as a success.

That $500,000 loss was essentially a marketing cost and Sexton ensured it ran again the following year. The World Poker Tour launched before the second edition and the legend had the event placed in the WPT schedule. It was a roaring success and partypoker soon became the biggest online poker site in the world.

May Your Cards Be Live and Your Pots Be Monsters

Sexton took up a commentary role with the WPT during its inaugural season. He was a mainstay with the long-running tour until he became partypoker Chairman in 2017.

He became a household name and his “may your cards be live and pots be monsters” catchphrase became famous around the world.

There may be no online poker had Sexton not been such a visionary. Even if the industry did become a thing, it wouldn’t have been anything like what we see today. Moneymaker may not have ever played a hand of poker so his famous win wouldn’t happen.

Poker lost a true legend and he will be sorely missed. Everyone in the industry will remember him, however. Our thoughts go out to his son, Ty, and everyone who was touched by this incredible man.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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