Hall of Famer Mike Sexton, the voice of the World Poker Tour and for many the voice of poker, is leaving the WPT to take up a new role as chairman of partypoker.
Sexton has been with the WPT since Season 1, Episode 1, which aired in 2003. In many ways, he taught the world to play poker, giving language to the game that would soon become an international hit.
He will be handing over the broadcast reins to fellow American Tony Dunst, who will join Sexton’s longtime sidekick in the booth, Vince Van Patten. But the move is about more than just the future of a television show.
In his new role as partypoker chairman, Sexton’s job will be to direct Party’s development, serving as a liaison between company executives and the poker community. Specific duties will include improving customer services, tailoring products towards small-stakes players, and helping develop partypoker LIVE.
Life of the Party
In addition to being a permanent fixture on the WPT, both as host and a player, Sexton has maintained a longtime relationship with partypoker.
As one of the company’s founding members nearly 15 years ago, in the early days of online poker, Sexton was with the site at its peak.
Party’s fortunes changed after 2006, when passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act led partypoker (then PartyPoker) to make a strategic decision to no longer serve US players.
Even though that move diminished his role, Sexton continued to serve as a brand ambassador for Party, which in 2009 acquired the WPT.
With partypoker LIVE, Sexton will be working with another industry stalwart, John Duthie, who was named president of partypoker LIVE in February 2017.
Duthie was the man behind the European Poker Tour (EPT) in the early poker boom days. Pre-UIGEA, PartyPoker was on top of the poker world, but would give up that position to PokerStars.
Key to Stars’ growth and eventual dominance in online poker was their development of the European Poker Tour, a series of live poker events that worked in synchronicity with their online product. Duthie developed that concept with the EPT, and it’s what he hopes to bring back to the game with Party.
“I believe there is a gap in the market for an operator whose primary focus is poker and who will listen to, and work with, the poker community as this was something that was absolutely key to the growth and success of the EPT,” Duthie explained on the partypoker blog in February.
As Sexton has said to viewers for nearly 15 seasons, they’re hoping their new team’s cards will be live, and the pots will be monsters.