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Mike Sexton playing pokerIt was quite a week at Borgata. We had the largest field in the history of the World Poker Tour with 1042 entries. And I was one of them!

My partner, Vince Van Patten, and I weren’t allowed to play in WPT events the first five seasons. The next couple of years, we would go to the events the day before the final table and leave the day after, so I only played a few events during those years.

The past two years, we didn’t travel to any events other than the Vegas and LA tournaments as we did the shows from a studio in LA, and again I only played a couple of events in that time.

I’m a player first and commentator second

This year, the WPT wants us to go to all events on Day 1 and stay thru the final table. That means I’ll get to play in a number of WPT events this year. I still enjoy playing in big-time tournaments and mixing it up with the young guns. This is my ninth season in the booth, but I still feel like I’m a “player first and commentator second”, so I’m going to play when I can.

I played my first event this season at Borgata. I had a lot of fun and ended up finishing 20th. It was my first cash on the WPT. I was in decent chip shape the first couple of days but was below average in chips going into Day 4 (final three tables) – also my birthday – and never made any progress.

I was down to about $300k ($5k ante with $20/40k blinds) in the BB when everyone folded to Dags (John Dagastino), who had a lot of chips, and he moved all-in in the SB. I called him with A-5 offsuit. He turned up a J-10, spiked a Jack on the turn, and that was it for me. I’ll be trying again at Bellagio in a couple of weeks.

The final table turned into quite a show. The winner was Dwyte Pilgrim, a confident and entertaining 28 year-old pro out of Brooklyn, NY. He said he was going to “Shock the World!” before the final table started. He really is fun to watch as he’s quite creative (and chatty). And he did put on a dazzling performance.

One of the most remarkable moments in the history of the WPT

The highlight of the show and one of the most remarkable moments in the history of the WPT centered around Pilgrim. With three players left, he was in the BB, had about $10M in chips, and called an all-in pre-flop bet of $2.7M from Ofir Mor (SB) with the J-10 of spades. Ofir had a K-8 offsuit with one heart. The flop came J-10-2 with two hearts and that’s when the fun started.

Pilgrim jumped up and ran to his fans, high-fiving and hugging everyone for about 5 minutes (and of course, the camera crew followed him) – and he did all that before the turn card and river card were even dealt! I kept saying the hand isn’t over as Ofir could back into a flush, a straight, trips, or two pair.

Pilgrim finally returned to the table and the eight of hearts came on the turn. Pilgrim’s expression was classic as he knew he would now lose he pot if a King, an eight, or a heart came up. Sure enough, a King peeled off and Ofir won the pot. I guarantee you that it was the longest celebration in poker history for a guy who lost the pot! The Poker Gods punished Pilgrim for his ways. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss the Borgata event on TV. This is must-see TV. Despite that embarrassing moment for Pilgrim, he deserves “Congrat’s” for staying focused, coming back, and winning the tournament.

The question I was asked at least a 1000 times was, “Who’s going to take your place if you make the final table?” I don’t know (and don’t really care), but I hope the WPT has that problem before the season is over.


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