Linda Johnson: Mike Sexton Was Poker’s Greatest Friend

Now, you have actually most likely heard that Mike Sexton died on Sept. 6 from prostate cancer cells. In today’s column, I intend to honor Mike, as well as likewise what will be his legacy.

I first satisfied Mike in the ’80s. Back then, the texas hold’em globe was fairly tiny. We were both playing online poker for a living so our paths went across usually. Those of you that only enjoyed him do discourse on TELEVISION may not realize how excellent of a player he was. Mike had greater than $6.5 million in winnings, and that figure didn’t include the high-stakes cash money games which he defeated often. He has a WSOP arm band and a WPT championship to his name.

In the mid-90s, I asked Mike to come to be a writer for Card Gamer (I was the publisher at the time). Mike was so kind, that he never forgot that I offered him his start and his exposure to the casino poker globe as well as he spent the next 25 years thanking me for doing so. I constantly informed him that I might have opened the door for him, yet he went through it and made a life in the online poker industry all for himself. His column was loved by casino poker enthusiasts worldwide.

Practically every person in casino poker would certainly agree that Mike was the game’s greatest ambassador. His vision for online poker was unlimited, permanently confident as well as hopeful. In fact, Mike was the first texas hold’em gamer to obtain a sponsorship (La Mode apparel business).

He prepared and organized what was the grandest phenomenon in casino poker during that time, the initial Competition of Champions kept in Las Vegas in 1999. I keep in mind people informing Mike it could not be done, yet they didn’t know exactly how determined Mike could be when he established his mind to something.

Mike established the regulations for the original TOC to make it fairly respected. To be eligible to take part, gamers needed to qualify by winning an event that had a $200+ buy-in sometime in the past year. He wanted all the heavyweights there so he also made all WSOP bracelet champions eligible. The TOC established a document for participation as nearly 700 players set up the $2,000 access cost, one of the most significant buy-ins ever before back then.

Mike as well as Linda at the Texas Hold’em Hall of Fame Induction Event

It was a superior occasion. I still keep in mind exactly how handsome Mike was in his tuxedo. Gamers marched in carrying their nation flags to the tune of We Are The Champions by Queen. I still bear in mind the goosebumps and also pride I had that day to be part of the poker world. Mike even had a lounge for online poker gamers to delight in as well as had bands bet our dance pleasure. (Incidentally, Mike was an incredible professional dancer, by the way. He and also his sibling Tom could even make me resemble I knew what I was doing.).

Mike and also I interacted introducing the TOC last table, which brought about us collaborating on other texas hold’em jobs. He and also I were the initial spokespeople for partypoker. Back in the very early days of net poker, there were lots of software program issues, so it fell on the two people to maintain ensuring the public that the issues would certainly be worked out. Without Mike’s endorsement as well as drive, on the internet texas hold’em, and specifically partypoker, would not have actually grown like it did.

One more among Mike’s visions was the Celebration Online Poker Million, where a gamer could win a bundle online that included a one-week cruise ship and a $10,000 entry. For as low as $1 in an on-line satellite, a gamer could rub joints with a few of the best in the world. At that time, Mike would certainly also directly call each of the satellite winners to invite them to the cruise. Card Player Cruises wound up holding four PPM tournaments on full-ship charters.

Around the turn of the century, Steve Lipscomb called a meeting with Mike and myself while we were in a jungle in Costa Rica. This was where the idea of the World Texas hold’em Excursion was birthed, et cetera is background. We all understand what a terrific analyst he was and also what great charm he had with his co-announcer Vince Van Patton. I personally believe Mike and Vince’s work with the WPT was a stimulant to the casino poker boom.

He was also an incredibly charitable guy. He was constantly very first to provide a handout to a needy texas hold’em player down on his luck. In 2006 when he won $1 million in the TOC, he contributed $100,000 each to five different charities. In 2009, he helped me co-found along with Jan Fisher as well as Lisa Tenner.

Mike was an outstanding husband. He shared his success with his 4 siblings as well as two siblings. Mike was 60 when he and his better half Karen invited their child Ty to the world. I keep in mind strolling into the hospital room the day Ty was born. Mike held Ty and never looked away from him for both hours we were there. Mike pledged that he would be a hands-on daddy, as well as he maintained that pledge. In spite of his exceptionally hectic schedule, he tried to never ever miss out on among Ty’s showing off occasions or after-school activities.

I had the enjoyment of taking a trip the world with Mike Sexton and the WPT team during its initial 6 seasons as the workshop announcer. We additionally took place many cruise ships together and taught WPT Bootcamp as well as offered seminars with each other for many years. Throughout it all, Mike was never ever also hectic to pick up a photo with a fan or to offer a sign.

I was recognized to be one of Mike’s constant site visitors throughout his battle with cancer cells. He had approved his destiny and was reasonable concerning the truth that he possibly would not endure. But we had lots of fantastic discussions throughout his last few months.

At Mike’s request regarding 10 days before he died, I revealed to the texas hold’em world that he was ill. I received essentially thousands of emails, texts, as well as social media sites messages, which I had the ability to show to him. Mike Matusow’s four-hour homage to Mike happened 3 evenings prior to he passed away, and so a number of his buddies got to talk to him one last time as well as let him know just how much he provided for the poker world and exactly how loved he was. We enjoyed the podcast along with Jan Fisher, Karen, Ty, Loni (his sister), as well as Shawna (his relative). Mike remained awake the entire time as well as had a massive smile on his face as most of us reached hear the tales regarding him.

Mike was a good example for the entire casino poker world. I loved him and also will miss him substantially, yet I rejoice he is no more experiencing. Rest in peace, my bosom friend.

Linda Johnson is a WSOP bracelet champion and hosts competitions, workshops, and charity events. In 2011, she was sworn in into the Online poker Hall of Fame. She is a companion in Card Gamer Cruises, and also invites you to travel with her on any one of the upcoming Card Player Cruises trips. Please contact her at with concerns or comments.

You May Also Like