Seneca Summer Slam

My First: Mike Sexton Wins WSOP Bracelet

Mike Sexton

When it comes to great poker ambassadors, it is hard to find anyone more fitting of the title than Mike Sexton. The long-time World Poker Tour commentator just celebrated his 10th anniversary behind the booth — just another milestone in his Hall-of-Fame career. Perhaps the most respected man in poker, Sexton has been on the poker scene for decades.

This past summer, Sexton finished second in the 2011 World Series of Poker Event #25 $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low-8 or Better tournament to Chris Viox. While he didn’t emerge victorious over the field of 606-player field, Sexton did secure $123,925, and once again proved his worth at his favorite variation of poker. In fact, it was in that very game that Sexton won his only WSOP bracelet.

1989 $1,500 Limit 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Final Table Results

1Mike Sexton$104,400
2Sid Herald$52,200
3Bud Moore$26,100
4Men “The Master” Nguyen$15,600
5Patty Robertson$13,050
6Ralph Hoots$10,440
7Jerry Buhr$7,830
8Charles Jacobi$5,220

“I won my first bracelet back in 1989. I’d been a professional poker player since 1978, but never went to the World Series of Poker until 1984. Back then they had one event every other day, so I went out for a week, but I could only play in three tournaments. I happened to make two finals tables at the WSOP, and it actually changed my life because I moved to Las Vegas shortly after that."

Event #11 of the 1989 WSOP was also a $1,500 Limit Seven Card Stud Hi-Low-8 or Better tournament, a game Sexton had been playing for a living in Las Vegas. That particular event drew 174 entrants, creating a prize pool of $261,000, and as Sexton explains, it was his personal World Championship event:

“In 1989 is when I won the bracelet, and truthfully, you know I’ve won million-dollar prize money in poker and a lot of other things in terms of bigger prize money, but nothing will ever compare to the joy of that first bracelet. The reason is because it was eight or better stud. At that time, that is what I played for a living every day. Because that was the game I played for a living, to me that was my World Championship. I’d never played no-limit hold’em at that time. I never played the Main Event until 1992. So to me the Main Event was just another tournament that didn’t mean that much to me because I never played it, but the eight or better stud was my championship event."

“To win that tournament was very prestigious. I was so honored to win it. What made it so much more fun was that Kenny Flaton had gone around and got guys to put in for a last longer bet of $1,000 apiece, and 17 guys got in the last longer bet. I got in there so I won that money on top of the prize money, so that was pretty cool, too. To me, at that time, it verified my existence as a professional player, especially in the game I played every day for a living, and that’s what made it so special for me."

Sexton has 20 final-table appearances at the World Series of Poker, but his only win came in that 1989 event.

"Most of the time I’d get there on the short stack, so I’d end up going out in fifth, sixth, or seventh. The one time I went to the final table with the chip lead was that eight or better stud tournament. The very first deal at the final table, the first hand dealt, I was rolled up with three sixes. Now that’s as good a starting hand as you can have in eight or better stud because it blocks other people from getting low cards, etc."

"So anyway, I ended up losing this pot to a flush on the river when a guy hit diamond-diamond on sixth and seventh, and I got scooped. I lost half my stack in the very first hand at the final table, and it was devastating to me. I regrouped and I said, you know, now I’ve got average chips so I’ll just play from here. Turns out I came back and I won the tournament. It was pretty nifty."

“When we got down to four players, I’ll never forget it either, probably the most amazing hand of poker I’ve ever played. I was the bring-in card, the low card, with a deuce, and it went raise, raise, raise, and I folded, I had nothing. The other three players capped it, and we all had about the same amount of chips going into this hand. On the turn they bet and capped it to the end, and on fifth street they capped it again, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Three people, with four left, were putting all their money in the pot. By sixth street they were all all-in. They turned up their hands and Sid Herald was rolled up with three kings, Men “The Master” Nguyen was rolled up with three queens, and the other person on fifth street had two aces on a {A-}{2-}{4-}{5-} board for a low draw. The three kings scooped that pot, busted the other two players out of the tournament, so I immediately jumped from fourth place to second place, and even though I was down 3-1 in the chip count, I played heads-up for the title and I came back to win."

“That hand vaulted me up in the prize money, which at that time was important to me, with a shot to play heads-up for the title. It was just a big cooler, three kings, three queens, and two aces with a wheel draw. It was a fun hand to watch, and even though I didn’t participate in the hand, it’s probably the most exciting hand I’ve ever been involved in.”

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