Mike Sexton held the chip lead heading into the Final Table of the partypoker.net WPT Montreal, and he survived to make it heads up against Benny Chen, winner of the 2013 World Series of Poker Millionaire Maker event.
Heads up play began after Sexton eliminated Nadir Lalji in third place on hand #106 of the Final Table. Starting heads up play, Chen held a small chip advantage with 71 big blinds compared to Sexton’s 59.
But after losing ground over the next 90 minutes of play and folding his button on hand #149, Sexton faced a more than 10-1 chip deficit with only 1,675,000 chips to Chen’s 17,775,000. But things would get better for Sexton.
He chipped away at Chen’s lead over the next 17 hands, and by the start of Level 35, Sexton found himself with 6.7 million of the nearly 20 million chips in play. With less than a 2-1 disadvantage, Sexton had over 22 bigs as the blinds reached 150,000/300,000 with a 50,000 ante.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. Over the next 29 hands (hand #195), between Chen cutting into Sexton’s stack and the blinds going up to 200,000/400,000, Sexton was down to just 8 big blinds. And though Sexton doubled up on the next hand, the two continued battling it out.
Sexton found himself in dire straits once again after losing a 5.3 million chip pot on hand #212 when Chen rivered trips. But just two hand later, facing a shove by Chen, Sexton looked down to find pocket Kings. His cowboys held to close the gap, down now 13.4 million to 6.1 million.
The blinds soon went up again and the back and forth continued with neither able to change the tide of the game much until Sexton limp-called preflop on hand #239 and shoved all in over Chen’s continuation bet on the flop. Chen folded and after taking down the 4.5 million chip pot, just 3 big blinds separated the players.
But Chen was relentless, and by hand #252 the blinds had gone up again and he had opened up a more than 5-1 lead on Sexton.
Not to be denied, Sexton was vigilant over the next 10 hands, choosing his spots carefully, and after rivering a straight and getting Chen to pay him off on hand #262, Sexton had claimed his first lead of the heads up match.
Just 2 hands later, Chen shoved with KJo and Sexton woke up with Queens. The flop brought a Queen and the board ran out giving Sexton his first WPT title, $302,896 in cash and entry into the $15,000 buy-in WPT Tournament of Champions.
“What an absolutely incredible experience it is to become a WPT champion!” Sexton said after the win. “A World Poker Tour title has eluded me until now, but luckily this old guy had a bit left in the tank to make another run at one, and it feels great to have closed the deal.”
“I’ve come close two times before, reaching the final table at Bay 101 in 2011 and in Venice in 2013, so to get another shot and have it work out in my favor, it feels unimaginable, but here I am,” Sexton added.
“Mike is an icon in the poker world and a true embodiment of a World Poker Tour champion,” said Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour. “His contributions to the industry are unparalleled, and you will not find someone more passionate about the game than Mike. The WPT is honored to welcome Mike to the WPT Champions Club, and we look forward to seeing him compete in the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions in April 2017.”