Thursday, October 15, 2009

Welcome to the Poker Hall of Fame... Mike Sexton

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I thought the results were supposed to be a secret? Nope, the votes were tallied up and the inductees for the 2009 Poker Hall of Fame were revealed in a blurb on the Las Vegas Review-Journal of all place. Only one player got the nod... Mike Sexton.

The nine nominees needed 75% of the 30 total votes in order to gain entry. Only Mike Sexton met those requirements. I wrote an article on Poker News were I picked Sexton as the overall favorite to make HOF this year. The results made me look like I knew what I was talking about. Then again, how can you argue against Sexton's accomplishments on and off the felt?

As I've mentioned many times before, most of the time when I'm playing poker, I heard Mike Sexton's voice inside my head commentating on my every move... if I'm making sketchy move, then Mike is raising his objections to Vince (who doesn't actually have a speaking roll -- he just sits there and nods).

2006 WPT Championship at the Bellagio
Photo by yours truly

I remember the first WPT event that I covered at the Borgata in Atlantic City in 2005. I had been up for a few days straight. I drove down from New York City after a flight from Barcelona (via Amsterdam) where I covered my the EPT Barcelona. Although I watched Mike Sexton play in the 2005 WSOP, I had never seen him as "Mike Sexton the biggest swinging dick on the WPT." There I was, sitting in the press area, when Mike Sexton walked into the packed ballroom.

The larger than life Mike Sexton was one of the most recognizable figures in poker at the apex of the boom in late 2005. Sexton took a few steps, posed for a picture, and glad-handed Tab the tournament director. Sexton strolled through the playing area. Players stopped in the middle of hands to look up as Sexton passed by. Sexton occasionally stopped at a table to talk to a player. His people. Just because he was behind the microphone calling the action didn't mean that Sexton abandoned his roots.

Sexton paid his dues in an era when poker was less sanitized and not yet corporatized. He was also friends with Stuey Ungar at a time in Stuey's life when he burned so many bridges that no one wanted anything to do with him. There's plenty of crazy Stuey stories, even a few involving Sexton, but the one that stood out the most was the Gold Coast story.

Sexton was at home fast asleep. 4:20am. The phone rang. It was Stuey who was plastered, broke, and trying to dodge drug dealers whom he owed a shitload of money. That summed up the 1990s for Stuey Ungar. Same shit. Different day. That night, Stuey was wandering the streets of Downtown with the rest of the derelicts. Sexton's girlfriend begged him not to help pull Stuey out of the gutter for the umpteenth time. Sexton did not listen to her and he drove downtown. Sexton found Stuey and mentioned that "his fingers were blackened from smoking crack."

Sexton hid Stuey in different hotels in order to stay a few steps ahead of the thugs looking to collect a hefty drug debt. At one point Sexton set up Stuey at the Gold Coast for a month while he tried to stay clean and out of sight from his dealers. Sexton assumed that the bill would only be $1,500, but Stuey went a little crazy with excessive room service charges and pay per view flicks. The bill was over $6,000. Sexton wasn't rolling in the cash those days. He didn't have the money and had to put the balance on his credit card. But he did it for Stuey.

Mike Sexton. Guardian Angel. Player. Commentator. Ambassador. Hall of Famer.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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