17 Years and 17 Hours: PartyPoker.Net Spokesman Mike Sexton scoops $1 Million
at 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions and gives half of it to charity
GIBRALTAR: It was 17 years ago that Mike Sexton won his first World Series of Poker bracelet and it took 17 hours for him to win his second WSOP tournament, the much-heralded 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions at the Rio in Las Vegas. The PartyPoker.net spokesman and host is now sitting on top of the world, having returned to the winnerâs circle in an event that he actually helped to conceive in 1998.
Sexton, elated, but exhausted after a gruelling 17 straight hours of play got a chance to see the $1 million passed his way, after years of watching and commentating on it going to other players. He promptly announced that he was giving half to charity – $100,000 to each of five charities.
âI am so happy to win,â? a choked up Sexton said in a post-victory interview. âTo win the million-dollar prize and this title means everything to me. To come back again all these years later and win this tournament really makes me proud. It is very special to me as I was the founder.â?
Twenty-seven players started the event that brought together WSOP Circuit winners and 2005 WSOP final table players for a $2 million freeroll at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Sexton received a freeroll into the tournament as the ambassador for PartyPoker.net, âThe Worldâs Largest Poker School.â At the end it came down to the three big names of Sexton, Mike Matusow and Daniel Negreanu. The banter and hectoring by the latter two provided amusement for the crowd, but Sexton kept his cool as some extraordinary poker was played out in the spotlight.
Sexton eliminated Matusow in the 12th hour of the event, when Matusow went all-in with A-4, only to have Sexton beat him with pocket sevens. Then it was down to Negreanu and five more hours of back-and-forth play with the chip lead changing several times. A key moment came when Negreanu, seeking one card for a diamond flush draw, moved all in, but Sexton held on with a top pair, taking a 4-to-1 chip lead.
âI thought I had as good a chance as anyone because of the structure and I got more confident as I built my chip stack up,â? said Sexton.
Finally at just after 6 a.m., Sexton pulled pocket aces to Negreanuâs KQ, with a 10-8-4 flop. When an A and 8 hit the table, it gave Sexton the full house he needed and his second WSOP bracelet in 17 years. The first was in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo in 1989. Sexton now stands among the top 10 for all-time number of finishes in the money at the WSOP with 37 cashes. He has nearly $2.7 million in total tournament winnings.
âBecause Iâve been doing commentary on the WPT for the past five years,â? said Sexton. âI am a much better player than I was before. Poker is a game of skill and thereâs a big advantage in having seen every hand. I see what players are doing and Iâm adapting my game.â?
Sexton was humbled and proud to announce the charities that he would be gifting with half of his winnings, a pledge he has made over the past few years and one that he says he will continue. The recipients included The Special Olympics, The Buoniconti Fund to help cure paralysis, The Paralyzed Veterans of America, The Wounded Warrior Project, which helps families of those wounded or killed in battle, and Children Incorporated, which helps provide food and school supplies for underprivileged children around the world. Children Incorporated is the primary recipient of donated monies from fellow poker player Barry Greenstein, known as the âRobin Hood of Poker.â?
Sexton said: âBarry is a pioneer. Poker can do good things for underprivileged people.â?
If Sexton is on a roll, there may be more âgood thingsâ? to come, as he plans to play some of the other WSOP tournaments, including the main event.
âI hope this is the start of something and I wish all the PartyPoker players the best of luck whatever event they are playing in.â?
Warren Lush, PartyPoker.net spokesman congratulated Sexton: âMikeâs victory is fantastic because heâs someone who gives so much to poker, itâs wonderful to see him receive something back. His generosity gives poker its newest millionaire philanthropist.â?