Although the official induction is still some weeks away, a Las Vegas newspaper recently announced the sole entry into this year’s Poker Hall of Fame. Mike Sexton, generally regarded as one of the nicest and most influential figures in poker’s short history, will join the likes of Stu Ungar and Doyle Brunson in poker’s most hallowed halls.
Mike is the 38th person to be inducted since the Hall was founded in 1979. 15 media experts and the 15 living members of the HoF each voted for their favorite candidates, chosen from a 9-strong shortlist. The nine nominees were generated by the public, a controversial new tactic that produced mixed results. The list was initially composed of 10 players, but the HoF commission elected to remove Tom Dwan on the grounds of his youth. The other nominees, who all failed to gain entry this year, where Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Tom McEvoy, Scotty Nguyen, Erik Seidel, Men “The Master” Nguyen, and Dan Harrington.
Each voter selected up to three candidates for entry, but in order to be inducted the nominees would need over 75% of the field to also pick them. Mike Sexton was the only man to accrue a high enough overall approval. WSOP communications director Seth Palansky confirmed that not all of the 30 voters cast their full compliment of votes. Although the quality of Negreanu and Ivey is unquestioned, many (included Daniel himself) cited their relatively young age as a barrier to entry. Sexton, on the other hand, appeared to be a shoe-in. A number of media figures with voting privileges openly voiced their support for Mike, and influential godfather of poker Doyle Brunson also announced that he would be voting for Sexton.
Mike has some enviable tournament results. Over his 20 year career he has recorded 46 WSOP cashes, almost half of which were final table finishes. In addition to a 1989 bracelet, he also won the 2006 Tournament of Champions. He subsequently donated half of his $1 million prize to charity. However, Mike is better known in his role as “The Ambassador of Poker”. His influence on the poker’s formative years and the early 2000s poker explosion can not be over stated. Howard Lederer stated recently that, “In terms of making this poker boom happen, he’s the most important pro there was.”
Many will know him as the voice and face of the World Poker Tour. Along with co-commentator Vince Van Patton, Mike introduced a whole generation of players to the game. The Wicked Chops duo said that, “Sexton got our nod more for his off-the-felt contributions. He’s acted with class and has repped the game as a great ambassador throughout his career.”
Sexton released a magnanimous statement, shortly after his inauguration was revealed.
“I am deeply honored to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame and it is particularly special because for the first time it was a process that involved the fans, the media, and the living members of the Hall of Fame. To me, the most meaningful aspect of this process was the acceptance by the living Hall of Famers, who welcomed me into their exclusive club.”
The official ceremony is scheduled to take place on November 7th, during a dinner break at the WSOP Main Event final table.