WPT Video Tribute to Mike Sexton Chronicles Poker’s 40-Year Rise

3 min read

The World Poker Tour put out a touching eight-minute video of the late Mike Sexton, who passed away from prostate cancer earlier this week. In the video, which you can view below, the narrator shares details about the former WPT announcer’s life, and how he impacted the game of poker.

Sexton is considered by many as one of the greatest ambassadors in poker history. He represented the game in the broadcast booth and on the felt with class. His visionary mindset and ability to attract casual fans helped poker grow to unthinkable heights.

The video above takes viewers on a journey from Sexton’s early days up through his 15 years on the World Poker Tour. Sexton grew up in Dayton, Ohio, so it’s no surprise he attended his state’s flagship university, The Ohio State University.

During his years at OSU in the 1970s, he competed in gymnastics and, naturally, became a die-hard Buckeyes fan. The current Ohio State gymnastics coach, Rustam Sharipov, honored the poker legend.

“The passing of Mike is sad news for Buckeye Nation,” Sharipov told OhioStateBuckeyes.com. “We lost a great man, alum, father, brother, uncle, and a wonderful and caring human being. His great love for our program was unconditional. Mike was always one of the first people asking what he could do. His athletic scholarship endowment impacted young student-athletes every year. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Sexton family. We will never forget Mike and what he did for our program.”

Mike’s post-college path took him from the US Army to a career in sales. But, as the narrator said, his true calling was in poker. Sexton left the world of sales in 1977 to become a professional poker player, and he never looked back.

From Partypoker to the World Poker Tour

Sexton was always ahead of his time. He had a strong passion for the game and envisioned poker going mainstream long before it did. Before the World Poker Tour ever launched, and before Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event, he predicted poker sponsorship deals were right around the corner. As Daniel Negreanu told CardsChat News, Sexton worked hard to ensure his prediction came to fruition.

Along his journey as a poker pro, Sexton befriended many of the greatest players of all time, including Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson, and Stu Ungar. In 1999, he masterminded the WSOP Tournament of Champions, an event he won in 2006 for $1 million.

In 2001, Sexton co-founded Partypoker, a poker site that is still going strong 19 years later. But, Sexton’s biggest impact, and what he’ll be remembered for most, was his 15-year role as the co-host of the World Poker Tour.

The innovative WPT introduced the hole-card camera to poker on the Travel Channel in 2002, helping to move the game from back rooms to living rooms across the world. Sexton, along with his co-host Vince Van Patten, formed a popular broadcast duo among casual viewers and hardcore poker fans.

The World Poker Tour has grown into an international sensation, thanks in large part to Sexton. Not only did he serve as the long-time co-host, he used his sales skills to sell host casinos on taking a chance on the young WPT in the tour’s early days.

Sexton passed away at age 72, more than 40 years after he first put his imprint on the game of poker.

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