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Mike Sexton Discusses Poker Player Etiquette And Final Table Dress Codes

Sexton Cashes In Two Events Simultaneously At 2012 WSOP


Mike SextonMike Sexton is considered to be one of poker’s greatest ambassadors and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2009 for his contributions to the game.

Sexton has been the play-by-play announcer for the World Poker Tour for the last 10 seasons, but spends every summer battling it out as a player at the World Series of Poker, where he has earned a bracelet and a Tournament Of Champions victory.

This summer, Sexton has notched three cashes, going deep each time. In a rare feat, he also managed to cash in two events simultaneously, despite the fact that the events began on the same day. In total, the 64-year-old pro has $3,585,000 in career earnings, with cashes dating back to 1984.

Here, he discusses his summer, player etiquette and proper final table dress codes.

Julio Rodriguez: Can you talk about how your WSOP has gone so far?

Mike Sexton: Yeah, I’m not doing too bad this summer. I’ve cashed three times and I haven’t really been playing that much. I took a week off and I’m going to take the next four days off before the big events come up. I’ll be playing in the $50,000 Players Championship and then the $1 million buy-in One Drop tournament. So those are some big opportunities coming up.

JR: You actually managed to cash in two tournaments simultaneously that began on the same day.

MS: The timing actually worked out really well. On the first day, I played the $3,000 heads-up event and won all three of my matches. I was actually done by 9 p.m., so I decided to late register for the 5 p.m. event, which was the $1,500 Stud eight-or-better tournament. I’ve done well in that tournament in the past, so I kind of played it so that I could have a back up plan. I figured if I lost my next heads-up match on day 2, I could jump back in the Stud tournament. So on day 1, there was no overlap, but on day 2, I was forced to blind out for awhile in the Stud.

JR: You recently posted a blog, telling poker players to wake up and smell the coffee while calling for more professionalism and responsibility. Can you elaborate on the issue?

Mike SextonMS: I think if you play poker as a profession, then you have to get out of your own little world and see the big picture. It is the responsibility of all players to help this industry grow. It is my opinion that the best way to help the industry is to make us look good on the various poker television shows. Television has been the single greatest reason why poker has exploded in popularity over the last ten years and the players sometimes take it for granted.

JR: While most people appreciated your blog, some didn’t agree that poker needs a dress code.

MS: The whole dress code part of the blog got blown out of proportion. I still believe that players should be presentable, but the most important thing is the players be responsible and aware of the image that they are displaying to the world. If corporate sponsors are watching and all they see are unshaven slobs in t-shirts, shorts and sandals, why should they spend their money on the poker industry?

All you got to do is look at golf. They’re clean cut guys who dress appropriately, say the right things and always do their best to promote the sport, and it’s paid off. I think the same can be done in poker. People may disagree, but online poker will be back in the United States in the near future and when that happens, corporate sponsors will be looking to pump some money into the game. We just need to lay the right seeds now so that it pays off in the future.

JR: The WSOP tried to implement a rule earlier this summer, forcing all players to verbalize their actions at final tables being streamed live on the internet. What did you think of the short-lived rule?

MS: If you haven’t said a word all tournament, they can’t expect you to all of a sudden speak up at the final table. I understand the intention behind the rule, to make players more engaging and perhaps entertaining during the live stream, but I don’t think it’s the player’s job to entertain the audience. That responsibility falls on the commentators and floor person announcing the action.

A more important aspect at final tables is player behavior. I completely get that an animated, loud player makes for better television. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the nature of the beast. I love Phil Hellmuth as much as anybody. Truthfully, he’s the best poker television there is, especially when he goes off, pouting after losing a big pot. The problem is that beginning players see this behavior all too often. They see it and either decide that they don’t want to be harassed and berated, never playing again. Or even worse, they decide that it’s okay to act like that at the table and scare away other beginning players. There has to be a nice balance between entertainment and proper table etiquette.

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, check out our WSOP landing page.



over 5 years ago

if there ever was a dress code in poker then i don't think as much people would play. Some people are just comfortable in their own setting. Mostly because most new poker players are people who started on the internet playing their shorts and tshirt. So they would prefer to be comfortable when they play in a live setting.


over 5 years ago

I wonder what Mike's take is on wearing a really bad hairpiece to the poker table??

Ya know, some hairpieces are so bad that they actually are distracting to opponents, deserving of a penalty.

Just sayin' Mike.


over 5 years ago

100% correct Mike! I am appalled by some of the clothes and verbal etiquette. If you are representing your sport, please show us that you care what you look like! Tony Dunst is a great example.


over 5 years ago

There should be a dress code of some sort It really gets out of hand playing some slob who cant even wear a clean shirt or comb his hair. The hooded thing needs to go also.

over 5 years ago

u dont make racehorses out of donkeys nor chikin soup out of chikn sht. scotty ngyuen drunk and obnoxious at final table heads up wht u expect of a wife beater drunk cant compare gentleman to morons the tv cameras zoom to the mike matasowsellmuths grand e3ntrances cumon. disruptive behavios shud not b glorified by your cameras promote people like ssacs mcevoyu m sexton . negraneau shulmans seblst oberstets etc boviere suzie i

over 5 years ago

poker starts putting u in 1 ml event cool get it all mike


over 5 years ago

F corporate anything, Mike. Most poker players love the fact that they are their own boss and get to do just about anything they please -- without a suit looking over their shoulder. Be yourself at the table, if that's a tee-shirt, shorts and sandals, so be it -- its called being comfortable at the table.


over 5 years ago

No they don't have some suit looking over their shoulder telling them what to do. They usually have a backer to preform that service. Yes the casual player walking into a poker room for a few hours away from that suit,looking to have some fun don't want to be told how to dress. As far as the pros who follow the tournament trail they will either change or go the way of the dinosaurs.


over 5 years ago

Mike Sexton is a solid guy. I agree that we should be looking into the future for more t.v. time and backers. I also concur that some of the "outfits" and lack of good hygiene by some at many tables is sometimes minimally inappropriate. But it is every individual's choice for now, to wear what they want in tourneys. Hopefully down the road we can become as big as golf, or tennis. Then we will see.If poker gets endorsements and corporations put up some of the monies then we could all end up in uniforms!