WPT To Host Special Celebration of Life Ceremony for Mike Sexton

September 14th, 2020 | by Jason Reynolds

Mike Sexton passed away last week but his impact on poker and players around the world will live on. Since his passing, pros, amateurs, and celebrities have paid tribute to the Voice of the WPT and all he did for the game.

Mike Sexton

The WPT will honor Mike Sexton is a special online Celebration of Life ceremony on September 22. (Image: WPT/Flickr)

In honor of his contributions, the WPT is hosting a special Celebration of Life ceremony on September 22. The virtual event will take place online on what would have been Sexton’s 73rd birthday.

More details will be released in the coming days, but tournament director and friend Matt Savage has said everyone is welcome to attend. As well as a chance to learn more about Mike Sexton and his life, those that knew him will be able to share their stories.

Dancing and Building Bridges with Poker’s Finest

Join the World Poker Tour on September 22 for Mike Sexton's Birthday Celebration of Life at 5:00pm PT. More details…

Posted by Matt Savage on Friday, 11 September 2020


The decision to host a Celebration of Life ceremony is fitting. Sexton didn’t want any tears in his final hours. Linda Johnson said his final wish was that that people remember the good times and live life with the same positivity her friend did.

Mike Sexton was born in Shelbyville, Indiana, on September 22, 1947. Long before he became one of the most recognizable names, and voices, in poker, he was working his way through college.

He started out as a business student at Ohio State University but switched his major to public recreation. At the time he was getting his degree, he was also a gymnast. That physical training stood him in good stead later in his life as he served in the US Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Although he just missed out on fighting the Vietnam war, Sexton was an active member of the regiment. Among his many talents, he taught members of his platoon, as well as private clients, how to ballroom dance. In fact, it was this that Linda Johnson remembers most fondly (see video below).

Sales were next on Sexton’s list of careers but all the time he was perfecting his pitch, he was learning the nuances of poker. Using the skills he’d developed playing and teaching contract bridge at college, he teamed up with the likes of Stu Ungar.

Rubbing shoulders with one of poker’s greatest served Sexton well. His first recorded win was third-place finish in a $1,000 Razz event at Amarillo Slim’s Superbowl of Poker. Although he’d picked up smaller prizes prior to that, the performance was his breakthrough moment.

The $9,500 prize gave Sexton a healthy bankroll boost. A boost he parlayed into two final tables at the 1984 WSOP. Unlike many of his peers, Mike Sexton found his niche in non-Hold’em events. Omaha and Stud were among his favorite variants, and it wasn’t until 1985 that he cashed in a Hold’em event.

Mike Shows Some Razzle Dazzle in Razz Events

Sexton’s maiden victory came in 1987. A $1,000 Razz event at the Super Stars of Poker in Tahoe saw Sexton beat Tom McEvoy and Karen Mauro to win $12,000. That win kick started a succession of victories that included a WSOP bracelet and, in 2016, a much-coveted WPT title.

As much as Mike is known for winning $6.7 million, it was his time as an ambassador for poker that endeared him to everyone. As one of the original stakeholders in Partypoker, Sexton helped to shape the early days of online poker.

He was also there at the start of the World Poker Tour (WPT). Alongside Vince Van Patten, his distinctive voice and energy were coupled with an intimate knowledge of the game and its famous faces.

By all measures, Sexton was a hit on and off the felt. His 15 seasons hosting the WPT built the brand and opened up poker to millions of people around the world.

One of Poker’s Best Ambassadors

Even in his seventies, Sexton was still beating the drum. As well as representing the WPT, he was an advisor and ambassador for Partypoker. This, coupled with a willingness to engage players at all levels, ensured his status in the game will never be forgotten.


He was inducted in the Poker Hall of Fame in 2009, but many players and fans had taken him to their hearts long before that.

His passing came as a shock to those that knew him personally and those that didn’t. However, from the comments and tributes posted online, Mike Sexton’s motto – may all of your cards be live, and your pots be monsters – will ring out loud and clear for many years to come.


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