Mike Sexton Named as Chairman of PartyPoker, Departs WPT
Mike Sexton, the long-time “Ambassador of Poker” and a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, has been appointed as the Chairman of PartyPoker. The announcement was made today by PartyPoker parent GVC Holdings Plc and published on the official PartyPoker blog.
The return to full-time responsibilities at Party for Sexton means an end to his long run as an on-air color commentator, in partnership with Vince Van Patten, for the World Poker Tour. Sexton’s role on WPT broadcasts has already been confirmed by mlutiple outlets to be filled by George “Tony” Dunst.
Sexton’s relationship with PartyPoker strecthes back more than a decade and a half, all the way to 2001, when he was recruited by the soon-to-launch PartyPoker site as its in-house poker expert. PartyPoker’s earlier parent company, PartyGaming Plc (originally iGlobalMedia), was founded by Ruth Parasol in 1997, with chief programmer Anurag Dikshit becoming a partner in the startup in 2000. Ruth Parasol’s boyfriend and later-husband, Russell DeLeon, and marketing director Vikrant Bhargava were also part of the executive team that realized a true poker expert was needed to both front the online site and fine-tune its poker offerings, which led to Sexton being recruited to Party in early 2001.
Sexton has been with PartyPoker ever since, through the wild ride of Party’s own corporate existence. Party exited the US online-poker market in late 2006, following the passage of the US’s UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). As a then-British firm, PartyGaming had little choice but to leave the US, soon relinquishing its position as the world’s largest poker site to chief rival PokerStars, which has dominated the global market ever since.
Sexton blind-referenced that old wound involving the UIGEA and PokerStars in what was otherwise an upbeat and welcoming quote about his elevation to chairman. Said Sexton, “This is an emotional time for me because I have decided to leave the World Poker Tour to focus on this new role. I was at PartyPoker from the start, before there was even a name or a single virtual card was dealt. I experienced the crazy times of the poker boom when we became the number one site in the world, I remember people sleeping on the office floor when we were all working 24/7 get the software launched and I remember the first PartyPoker Million on a cruise ship which overlaid $500k. It was devastating for me to see the decline of PartyPoker when we were forced to pull out of the US and then watch from the side lines as our competitors remained and benefited from our customer base. I am really looking forward to working with people that love the game like I do. We are not aiming for second place. We are all in. Shuffle up and deal!”
Added PartyPoker’s Managing Director, Tom Waters, “I am absolutely delighted that Mike has decided to come on board as our Chairman. We are all dedicated to make partypoker the site for the players and having his support to make this happen gets us one step closer.”
According to Party and parent company GVC Holdings, Sexton will take on a larger role in representing both the brand and the global poker community. His duties (as listed below by Party) will represent a return to a consumer-centered approach, if indeed Sexton is able to implement everything on the list. Those items include:
- Invest in software development to deliver an industry leading player experience;
- Improve customer services and strive to resolve player issues in the same day;
- Reward the loyalty of players who start games and keep the action going;
- Look after smaller bankroll players with value added promotions;
- Fight against the use of third party software that gives an unfair advantage;
- Invest marketing budgets within the poker community;
- Develop partypoker Live to become the largest live poker tour in the world;
- Support partners and have their backs;
- Only appoint management who get poker, who are trusted, and who actually care;
- Hold hands up to the poker community when mistakes are made.