Poker Legend Mike Sexton Passes Away at 72
Poker has lost its greatest ambassador. On Sunday, Poker Hall of Famer and long-time World Poker Tour host Mike Sexton passed away after a prostate cancer battle. He was 72.
His passing comes about a week after Linda Johnson revealed his illness to the world. Since that time, poker players and fans worldwide shared their memories and well wishes, remembering a man who many feel was one of the direct reasons for poker’s explosion in the early 2000s.
Sexton Passes Away After Battle With Prostate Cancer
Last Tuesday, Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson announced to the world that Mike Sexton was battling prostate cancer and that it had spread to his organs. He had already been on home hospice for a month, so many knew that his time was short.
The tributes to Sexton began rolling in after that point. One of the best tributes was from Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. He held a special edition of his podcast “The Mouthpiece” on September 3rd and turned it into Sexton’s tribute. Poker pros came onto the show sharing their well wishes and their stories about a man who truly revolutionized the game.
Unfortunately, it is extremely rare that someone goes into hospice care and survives. Such was the case for Sexton. On Sunday night, Linda Johnson posted that Mike had passed peacefully surrounded by his family.
Linda then posted the following to Twitter:
Mike didn’t want tears. He wanted happy stories so I’m going to post some videos and pictures and welcome you to do the same. This one was taken at the introductory party for WPT. That’s Steve Lipscomb, Mike and me. pic.twitter.com/iJRfQddPuA
— Linda Johnson (@FirstLadyPoker) September 7, 2020
Mike Sexton was 72.
Poker World Owes a Debt to Sexton
There is a lot that can be said about Mike Sexton as a poker player. He won over $6.7 million in live poker tournaments, won a WSOP bracelet, won the 2006 Tournament of Champions, and even took down a World Poker Tour title.
However, he will be best remembered for changing the poker world as we know it. Back in 2002, Sexton helped to launch the World Poker Tour. He became the face of the company on TV as the host of World Poker Tour broadcasts.
The WPT was the first television program to broadcast poker tournaments on a regular basis. This helped to usher in what is known as the Poker Boom. While many give credit to Chris Moneymaker for starting the Boom, many know that Mike Sexton and the World Poker Tour were directly responsible for helping poker grow.
While most know Sexton for the World Poker Tour, he was involved with many other ventures. Many don’t know that he was involved with partypoker from its inception. He is credited for coming up with the name. Sexton returned to partypoker after leaving the WPT in 2017 to become the chairman of partypoker.
Sexton was also involved with many charitable initiatives. He famously donated half of his earnings from the 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions to charity. He also helped to form PokerGives.org, an organization whose focus is to help poker players donate to charity. Sexton helped champion the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop and was involved in various charitable initiatives throughout his career.
Tributes Continue To Pour In
Following the announcement of his death, poker players and fans continued to remember poker’s greatest ambassador. Here are a few of those tributes:
People deal with grief in different ways and admit I haven’t dealt with the illness and passing of Mike Sexton as well as I should have. 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. #ThankYouMike pic.twitter.com/3XaYw6QKa8
— Matt Savage (@SavagePoker) September 7, 2020
If you’re a poker player, you looked up to Mike Sexton.
If you’re a poker broadcaster, you looked up to Mike Sexton.
If you worked in poker in any capacity, you looked up to Mike Sexton.
His accomplishments in the poker world are only surpassed by his kindness. RIP, Mike https://t.co/t5o3zMfkjX
— Jeff Platt (@jeffplatt) September 7, 2020
Thank you, Linda. The tribute yesterday for Mike Sexton was so moving. He was one of the most gentle and warm-hearted people I ever met. I speak for every poker player I know when I say he will be missed. #RIPMikeSexton https://t.co/H89DnaQq28 pic.twitter.com/ct25lwrBoK
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) September 7, 2020
I am so thankful for the wonderful memories I have of traveling the world with Mike Sexton for the past 30+years. There was no kinder more humble person. Mike leaves an amazing legacy for the poker world and for his family. RIP Mike Sexton!
— Linda Johnson (@FirstLadyPoker) September 7, 2020
Mike Sexton is the epitome of what and how a player should conduct himself both at and away from the poker table. Always the consummate Gentleman. We should all strive to emulate his behavior. Truly one of Poker’s greatest ambassadors. We all love you @Mike_partypoker !!!
— Todd Brunson (@ToddBrunson) September 2, 2020
A competitor, a friend, a remarkable human being.
RIP Mike Sexton
This pic taken at the start of a 6 hour heads up deal in the TOC that Mike went on to win. He played so well that day I remember being truly shocked and impressed. pic.twitter.com/cKRaqwbWux
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) September 7, 2020
From a personal note, this writer had the honor of both playing with Mike on a couple of occasions and covering him as a poker tournament reporter. Mike always was a true gentleman and gave freely of his time. He truly cared about people and the game of poker as a whole. Some people in the poker world claim to want what’s best for the game, but Mike truly lived it. He will truly be missed.