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The Face Of Poker

he face of World Poker Tour (WPT), Mike Sexton, announced yesterday that he would be vacating his role as commentator on WPT for the Chairman position at Partypoker.

For many, not only is Mike Sexton synonymous with WPT, having been part of the broadcast team since its inception 15 years ago in 2002, but he is also arguably the voice of poker as a whole and undoubtedly helped immensely in bringing poker to the masses. With a WPT title of his own, a World Series of Poker bracelet, the Tournament of Champion titles under his belt, and now on top of all that, a Poker Hall of Famer at the prestigious WPT Champions Club, Sexton is a great Ambassador of Poker.

Passing of Torch from One WPT Champion to Another

Sexton will be handing over the broadcast reins over to Tony Dunst, who has been with WPT since 2010 and previously stepped in for Sexton as an analyst. Joining Dunst at the commentary booth will be Sexton’s longtime sidekick, Vince Van Patten. Even though there’s some big shoes to fill, the new duo, Dunst and Patten, should find no difficulty in continuing where Sexton left off.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the World Poker Tour since its inception in 2002,” said Sexton in the WPT announcement, which also stated that Tony Dunst would be taking Sexton’s spot in the chair alongside Vince van Patten – a role he has occasionally filled when Sexton made deep runs himself in WPT events.

Having spent 15 years at WPT, there was unsurprisingly a long list of names Sexton had wanted to thank. His partner in crime, Vince Van Patten was the first to be mentioned.

“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.”

He continued his thanks with 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”, said Sexton, “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.”

WPT CEP Adam Pliska reciprocated by saying “Today is a bittersweet day in WPT history. As we announce the end of Mike Sexton’s incredible tenure as WPT co-commentator, the World Poker Tour celebrates the internal promotion of Tony Dunst to one of poker’s most visible positions. 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. In short, Mike has made us a better company. 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.”

New Challenge Ahead

As the new Chairman of Partypoker, Sexton will be looking to help the company regain its former glory, one which saw Partypoker as the first major online poker site in the world. But when the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act took place, management at Partypoker made the tough decision to pull out of the America market, enabling competitors like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to take centre stage. Now, Partypoker will be aiming to knock the current kings of the thrown and take the no.1 position for itself.

“This is an emotional time for me because I have decided to leave the World Poker Tour to focus on this new role. I was at partypoker from the start, before there was even a name or a single virtual card was dealt. I experienced the crazy times of the poker boom when we became the number one site in the world, I remember people sleeping on the office floor when we were all working 24-7 get the software launched and I remember the first partypoker Million on a cruise ship which overlaid $500K.

It was devastating for me to see the decline of partypoker when we were forced to pull out of the US and then watch from the side lines as our competitors remained and benefited from our customer base. I am really looking forward to working with people that love the game like I do. We are not aiming for second place. We are all in. Shuffle up and deal!”]

Sexton has his work cut out for him, but competing against the best of the best doesn’t faze him in the slightest. He lives for these moments.

“I love playing against the best. It’s not a grueling, painful experience like it is for some people, because I really enjoy the challenge of it.”

That was the attitude he had at the tables, and he’ll be bringing the same attitude to his new role at Partypoker. He’s not settling for anything less than the best.

“I am really looking forward to working with people that love the game like I do,” he said. “We are not aiming for second place.”

Sexton’s other goals includes:

  • ➤ Investing in software development to deliver an industry leading player experience
  • ➤ Improving customer services and strict to resolve player issues as quickly as possible
  • ➤ Reward loyal players with awards that lets them know they are valued
  • ➤ Creating a friendly environment for amateur players by adding value to smaller events
  • ➤ Combating against the use of third-party software that provides users with an unfair advantage
  • ➤ Invest marketing budget within the poker community
  • ➤ Oversea the growth of the party poker Live tour