Beloved poker commentator and champion Mike Sexton, nicknamed the “Ambassador of Poker” for his lifelong promotion of the game, has died.
Mike Sexton, one of the most recognizable and influential personalities in the modern poker world, died Sunday of prostate cancer. He was 72.
World Poker Tour and party-poker, an online poker company Sexton cofounded, confirmed his death. Fellow poker champ Linda Johnson said Sexton “had been battling prostate cancer” that had spread to other organs shortly before his death.
Sexton had a hand in every aspect of poker — broadcast, business and the game itself. Surviving poker greats say the game wouldn’t be as successful as it is today without his influence.
Sexton, a 2009 inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame, served as one-half of a commentary team for the World Poker Tour alongside Vince Van Patten from the tour’s first TV broadcast in March 2003 through 2017, when Sexton retired to become the chairman of online poker platform partypoker.
Sexton had been influential during partypoker’s launch in 2001. As both a promoter of the platform and in his role as a commentator and player, Sexton was one of the key figures in driving the worldwide poker boom in the early 2000s — an era that saw tournament prize pools balloon by millions of dollars and online poker cash games grow.
“Mike Sexton, one of my great gambling friends and one of my best friends forever — just a stand-up, wonderful person — has gone,” Van Patten said in a video released by the WPT. “But he’s not, because the whole poker world knows and loves him.”
Sexton was a longtime commentator for World Poker Tour, which hosts international televised tournaments, with broadcasting partner Vince Van Patten.
As a player, he won nearly $7 million since his debut in the 1980s. His competitors hardly winced when he’d take their chips because he was so widely liked, actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly tweeted after learning of his death.
After nearly 15 years of commentating for World Poker Tour, Sexton won his own World Poker Tour title in 2016. That victory was special for how long it took Sexton to achieve it — something out of a movie, partypoker player Jaime Staples tweeted.
He wrote two books, founded a non profit for players to donate to veterans causes and Las Vegas communities, and created party-poker. Sexton coached little league baseball and even skipped poker tournaments if they interfered with his baseball schedule. In 2008, he has a son TY, at age 61.
One year after his son’s birth, he was inducted into the poker Hall of Fame. It was one of the highest honors he’d received in his career, he said, second only to the World Poker Tour’s decision to rename its Champions Cup after him.
In a tribute blog, pro Phil Hellmuth said the game is indebted to Sexton.
“Poker would not be as well regarded as it currently is without Mike Sexton,” Hellmuth wrote. “Mike has been the consummate gentleman, and has championed poker better than anyone else.
” Upon learning of his death, many of Sexton’s friends and fans have shared Sexton’s famous sign-off: “May all of your cards be live, and may all of your pots be monsters.”