After a 15-year career as commentator for the World Poker Tour (WPT), legendary poker ambassador Mike Sexton has called his last card game.
In a press release issued on May 22, the WPT announced that Sexton will retire from the commentary booth and return to PartyPoker, the online poker platform he helped to found in 2001.
A statement published on the PartyPoker Blog, on behalf of parent company GVC Holdings, stated that Sexton would take on the new role of company Chairman. Per the statement, Sexton’s duties will run the gamut from ambassadorship – as he will be tasked with “representing the global poker community” – to daily duties like software development consultation for the site, and growth of the PartyPoker Live tour.
Sexton released a statement which celebrated his historic run as the face of the WPT, while thanking the tour’s extended “family” of longtime employees:
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the World Poker Tour since its inception in 2002. When the World Poker Tour launched, it was a dream come true, and to be there from the beginning and see how the WPT changed the poker world forever by essentially turning poker into a televised sport has been amazing. And to do it all this time with my co-commentator from day one, Vince Van Patten, has made it even more special.
I’d like to thank Steve Lipscomb for his vision to create the World Poker Tour, Adam Pliska for bringing the WPT to incredible heights, and the entire WPT family for all they do and have given me. I’d like to mention everyone, but there’s simply too many to name. They know who they are, and without them, the WPT wouldn’t have become what it is today.”
Sexton’s statement also pointed out that he won’t be entirely absent from the WPT going forward.
After more than a decade spent competing in WPT events before calling final tables from the booth, the longtime poker pro finally etched his name on the tour’s Champion’s Cup last November. By virtue of his victory at WPT Montreal, Sexton is now eligible to compete in the WPT Tournament of Champions each year, ensuring that the iconic figure will be back in the mix on a regular basis.
Adam Pliska, chief executive officer of the WPT, praised the 69-year old Sexton for dedicating himself to the tour despite the demands of global travel:
“Today is a bittersweet day in WPT history. Mike, along with Vince Van Patten, is more than just a part of one of the longest-running commentating pairs in sports broadcast history. His graciousness, enthusiasm, passion, and genuine spirit are emblematic of all we have wished the World Poker Tour to be.
For years, we knew that this day would come, and the WPT is immensely grateful that Mike stuck it out for 15 years of nonstop travel and devoted work to the benefit of all of his colleagues. Mike will forever be a cherished member of the WPT family, and his impact will forever shape the core of this company and the entire industry.”
The WPT commentating torch was also passed seamlessly to professional player Tony Dunst, host of the tour’s Raw Deal segment for the last seven years.
Dunst, who won his own WPT title at Season XII’s Caribbean stop in 2013, added his thoughts on filling Sexton’s shoes to the company statement:
“While I have substituted for Mike and Vince several times over the years, getting the call to take a position in the WPT commentary booth full time is an incredible opportunity. Mike Sexton set the standard for what it means to be an ambassador, and the positive impact he had on my career and the broader poker community cannot be overstated.
I’m honored to be taking his seat in the booth next to the legendary Vince Van Patten; and while I intend to bring my own style to the position, Mike will be a lasting inspiration for how I carry myself and treat people within poker.”
Sexton departs ahead of the tour’s upcoming Season XVI, which officially began in April with a Beijing event, but really gets underway with the first televised tournament this August at the Choctaw stop in Oklahoma.