AN INCREDIBLE HONOR
I never thought anything in poker could ever exceed being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame but this week, I was proven wrong. The World Poker Tour contacted me and wanted to re-name the WPT Champions Cup the “Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup”. To me, this is the highest honor I could ever receive in poker. “Thank you” WPT for this truly incredible recognition.
The Champions Cup is the hallmark trophy that travels the world to every WPT Main Event. Every WPT Main Event champion has his name permanently engraved on it. And once you win a WPT title, you get perks at every WPT main tour stop and you’re eligible to play in the WPT Tournament of Champions for life. I really do love how the WPT reveres its champions.
My career, my life, and most of my success came from a dream I had over 25 years ago. That dream was to create the greatest event in poker – not a tournament you could buy your way in like every other tournament in the world, but one you had to earn your way in by winning a tournament anywhere in the world with a buy-in of $200 or more. (I patterned it after the TOC of golf where you have to win a PGA Tour event during that calendar year to play in the TOC of Golf.)
It wasn’t easy. I had a tough time landing a casino partner. I went to six mega casino’s who all turned me down before I landed the TOC of Poker at The Orleans casino in Las Vegas. That turned out to be a fantastic location. I then traveled around the world in hopes to get foreigners to play. Because of my dream, a friend gave me a plaque I still have on my office wall that reads, “Those who achieve SUCCESS are those that take a DREAM and make it come true.” That was my dream and fortunately, it came true. It also led me to MUCH bigger things.
Rather than just play NLH like every other championship event in the world, I wanted the TOC of Poker to be a multi-game championship against all champions to determine the ultimate champion. My event would be a combination of Limit Hold’em, Limit Omaha 8 or Better, and Limit Seven Card Stud all the way down to the final three tables and then it was strictly NLH until we crowned a champion. (Remember, this was before the WPT and NLH wasn’t played in any casino’s on a regular basis. It was all limit poker.)
Many players thought I was nuts to play the multi-game format but I was confident that if players qualified, they would learn the other games and play. I was right about that. Although it doesn’t seem like many entries by today’s standards, my first TOC in 1999 had 664 entries (with David Chiu the winner) but just two months earlier, the main event at the WSOP had only 393 entries.
For my TOC, I created an International Trophy for the country with the best results. “Congrats” to France and the Aviation Club (Bruno Fitoussi) as they won the International Trophy all three years! I set up a second ballroom with collages of all the great players and banners of participating casino’s as well as a dance floor with live music every night. (Hey, it was my tournament and I liked to dance.) Players marched into the ballroom with their country’s players waving their flags just like the Olympic games. It really was special. I’m sure I’m prejudice, but I still believe the TOC of Poker was the greatest EVENT in poker history. The problem was I could never make money with it so after three years, I had to stop putting it on.
That event, though, The Tournament of Champions of Poker, led me to my jobs with partypoker and the World Poker Tour. And truthfully, I felt so blessed as I had the best two jobs in poker; “Poker Domain Expert” with partypoker and commentator on the WPT. The joy of being part of those terrific companies in their infancy and watching them grow to the success they’ve had is still mind-boggling to me. PartyGaming went public in less than four years for $9 Billion dollars and the WPT literally changed the poker world forever. Steve Lipscomb (founder of WPT), take a bow. And Adam Pliska (CEO), you can take a bow also as you have truly taken the WPT global. And take another one for re-naming the WPT Champions Cup. 🙂
In 2006, I won the WSOP TOC ($1m) and in 2016 I accomplished another HUGE dream of mine, winning a WPT title. I was especially thrilled to win my WPT event in Montreal (at Playground Poker Club – a partner of partypoker) and to get my name engraved on the WPT Champions Cup. I was equally excited to become eligible to play in the WPT TOC for life. It’s for all these reasons and all the TOC connections I’ve had over my career why I’m so humbled, proud, and honored that the WPT has renamed the WPT Champions Cup, the “Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup”.
In my mind, the timing couldn’t be better. As you know, we are currently hosting the WPTWOC on partypoker and during this festival (17 July-8 Sept), for the first-time ever, we are hosting twelve Championship events with huge guarantees where the winner will win mega bucks, FIVE of which will win the beautiful Baccarat crystal, a Hublot watch, get a $15k entry into the WPT TOC, and get his name engraved on the “Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup”!
Here’s some good news: All NLH Championship events are single re-entry with two starting flights and real names will be displayed. Four of the Championship events are $3k (+200) buy-in with a $3m guaranteed prize pool and the main event is a $10k (+$300) buy-in with a $10m gtd prize pool! The best part is that there are mega satellites for all bankrolls and giveaways so everyone can have a shot to play in these incredible WPT Championship events. Go to partypoker402.com to check out the schedule.
I can’t wait to speak to the FIVE winners who get their name inscribed on the “Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup”. Winning a WPT title truly is a dream come true. Good luck players!
Image courtesy of WPT
September 1947 – September 2020