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Hand History Rewind: Mike Sexton Wins The 2016 WPT Montreal Main Event

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Oct 21, 2020

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Mike Sexton spent 15 years as the voice of the World Poker Tour, alongside co-commentator Vince Van Patten, before recording his first victory on the other side of the broadcast. At the age of 69, Sexton emerged victorious in the 2016 WPT Montreal $3,850 CAD no-limit hold’em main event to secure his first title on the tour that he helped popularize. For the win, Sexton earned $317,896 and saw his name added to the WPT Champions Cup, which has since been renamed in his honor.

This victory came in Sexton’s third appearance at a WPT final table. After years of being prohibited from playing in the events by his contract, Sexton was finally given the go-ahead to participate starting in 2010. That year, he made his first final table, finishing sixth in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star main event for $148,000. In the spring of 2013, he came within a couple of spots of a win, but ultimately finished third at the WPT Venice Grand Prix for $69,723. Sexton also made a fourth final table after winning his title, placing fourth in the 2017 WPT L.A. Poker Classic for another $300,690 to bring his career earnings on the tour to $1,011,725.

The WPT Montreal main event drew 648 entries, resulting in a $1,490,802 USD prize pool that was doled out among the top 84 finishers. Sexton held the chip lead when the six-handed final table was set, with Canadian local and soon-to-be WPT champion Ema Zajmovic in second chip position, and WSOP bracelet winner Benny Chen looming behind.

Here are five key hands from Sexton’s run to the title.

The Action

Benny Chen raised to 160,000 from the hijack and Samuel Gagnon moved all in for his last 1,390,000 from the button. Sexton woke up with pocket jacks in the small blind and made the call, forcing a fold from Chen. Gagnon was in trouble with pocket tens, and got no help from the flop, turn, or river, earning $50,590 for his deep run in the event. Sexton scooped the pot, giving him the chip lead entering the live-streamed final table.

The Action

Sexton picked up the best starting hand in poker and raised from the cutoff. Ema Zajmovic was just 16 hands removed from losing a huge chunk of her stack with A-K against pocket aces. Having come into the day in second place, she now sat as the shortest stack with five remaining. She picked up K-Q on the button and moved all-in. Sexton made the quick call with his pocket aces and held up on a low, paired board. Zajmovic hit the rail in fifth place, earning $76,127 for her deep run. She went on to become the first female player to win an open-field WPT main event the following year, but this particular title belonged to Sexton.

The Action

2013 WSOP Millionaire Maker event winner Benny Chen raised from the button and Sexton defended his big blind. Sexton flopped top pair and checked to Chen, who made a small bet of 150,000 with his gutshot straight draw. A blank on the turn saw Sexton continue with his pot-control approach, check-calling another bet of 400,000 from Chen. The JSpade Suit on the river completed Chen’s straight. Sexton checked a third time and Chen bet 1,200,000 into the pot of 1,740,000. Sexton had played his hand to catch bluffs, but he correctly decided to get out of the way this time. He folded his top pair to maintain his chip lead, while Chen took down the sizable pot.

The Action

Sexton picked up pocket eights in the small blind and raised to 375,000. Short-stack Nadir Lalji three-bet all-in for 2,200,000, or just shy of 15 big blinds. Sexton made the call with his medium pair and the two were off to the races. Sexton jumped out to a massive lead by flopping a set of eights, and a blank on the turn left Lalji drawing dead. The Canadian businessman earned $136,806 as the third-place finisher, while Sexton took down the pot to close the gap considerably on chip leader Benny Chen. After this knockout, Sexton entered heads-up with 59 big blinds to Chen’s 71 big blinds.

The Action

It took just 106 hands to narrow the final table from six players down to the final two. Heads-up play between Sexton and Chen, however, would last for another 158 hands. Chen was able to extend his lead early, building a 10:1 chip advantage through the first hour of their lengthy showdown. Sexton was able to hang around, securing multiple crucial double-ups to keep his title hopes alive. On the 156th hand of their battle, Sexton rivered the bottom end of a straight against Chen’s pair and a higher straight draw, which gave him the lead for the first time during heads-up play. Two hands later, it was all over. Chen moved all-in from the button and Sexton called from the big blind with pocket queens. Sexton flopped top set, but Chen had outs to a gutshot straight. Sexton’s set held up to secure him the title and the top prize of $317,896. Chen settled for $213,515 as the runner-up finisher.

Final Table Results

1. Mike Sexton — $317,896
2. Benny Chen — $213,515
3. Nadir Lalji — $136,806
4. Ilan Boujenah — $99,067
5. Ema Zajmovic — $76,127
6. Jake Schwartz — $61,000
7. Samuel Gagnon — $50,590
8. Antonin Duda — $40,343
9. Terry Schumacher — $30,254