Mike Sexton

WPT commentator, Mike Sexton, talks about 25 years on the poker tour

Favourite game?
For years I played Hi-Lo Split games for a living. And when I played professionally in home games, we had a rule: If you could explain it, you could deal it. So I became accustomed to playing some wild games, and I believe you become a better player if you play a variety of games. Right now my favourite game is pot-limit Hold’em, and what I’d love to see is pot-limit before the fl op and no-limit after the fl op – I think that’s a more skilful game and I wish all the big tournaments would switch to that.

Business or pleasure?
I’ve been a professional poker player for 25 years. And for 20 years I did nothing but play poker seven days a week to make a living. Once I’d put on the Tournament of Champions, and I began working with Party Poker and became a commentator on the World Poker Tour, I transcended to the business side of poker, but in my heart I still think I’m a poker player fi rst. I still like to play in big-time tournaments: I went to the Aussie Millions, I play in the Superstars of Poker, and I’ll play in the WSOP. And if I wasn’t a commentator for WPT I’d be playing in the big tournaments.

H.O.R.S.E play
I’m going to play in that event at the WSOP – it’s a $50,000 buy-in, which will limit a lot of people from playing in it. The theory is it’ll just be the high stakes superstar players that play that event as the average guy can’t afford to buy into it. I agree with the concept that multiple games brings out the best players. I was the guy who started that with the Tournament of Champions – we played Omaha Hi-Lo Split, 7-Card Stud, limit Hold’em and no-limit Hold’em. Because it’s just going to be all the big name players that play it, it’s going to look like the best player in the world is the one who wins it.

Making the jump
Most online players who qualify for live tournaments are very experienced tournament players. I’ve played the tour for 15 years, but you can get that experience in six months now playing online. When you take that to a brick-and-mortar casino, it’s not that tough if you’re an experienced tournament player. The tough part is maintaining a poker face – learning not to give anything away when they’re looking at their cards. Once they know how to do that I don’t think it’s a problem. I believe that 10 years from now, every poker star is going to have learned playing online.

Kid Unknown?
It’s going be a problem of keeping the same faces at the top. You’re going to see many new players winning these tournaments. Once the fi elds get so large it’s tough for the same guys to show up time and time again. The reward for them is when they do make a score, the prize pool is so much bigger. So you don’t have to score as often to do very well playing poker these days. If you win one tournament a year, you’re a millionaire. Every sport needs stars, but in truth the stars are the guys who win the televised events.

Selling the game
The great thing for players today is they don’t need to make all the money on the green felt. There are sponsorship opportunities and most of the top stars represent an online site. Other businesses are now coming into poker – Phil Ivey just got a huge deal with Reebok. There are opportunities out there for players to make a lot of money without worrying about having to win a tournament to make income.

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