Tom Sexton is the featured columnist on www.SextonsCorner.com, which has become one of poker's most popular and unique online web sites
around.  It offers poker's most colorful stories with amazing photos and film clips to enjoy, with easy navigational capabilities.  A new story appears
every Monday for the readers to look forward to.  Check out the multiple home pages, the
Archives, the Las Vegas Poker Rooms,
Poker's Trivia pages, and the Poker Store, where unique poker products are available for purchase.  Tom was the official WSOP photographer for
Binion's Horseshoe from 1999 thru 2002, and is well known in the poker world for his world class artistic collages of poker's biggest stars with Poker
Masterpieces!  Tom was an Ohio High School State All-Around gymnastic's champion as well as the 1st NCAA All-American and Big Eight
gymnastic's champion in history at the University of Oklahoma.  He went on to teach High School and coached the gymnastic's team to several State
Championships.  His brother, Mike Sexton, found TV fame as host for the
World Poker Tour, now entering it's seventh remarkable season, and was
voted by his peers as Poker's Ambassador for his contributions to the industry.  Tom welcomes your thoughts and comments about any of his articles.  
His email is:
Tom@SextonsCorner.com
A Night To Remember:
Card Player Magazine, Vol 19, Number 6
By MIKE SEXTON
Published: Apr 04 2006
T
lines included: "I see Gabe Kaplan is in the house. I think he had some kind of hit show when I was a
fetus." "And Amir Vahedi is here tonight. I met him in flight school." And, of course, he brutalized
Mike Matusow: "Mike Matusow's raising his hand. I see he still has the cuffs on."
he first-annual Card Player Player of the Year awards show
was held in Hollywood, California, on Feb. 15, 2006. The
event, created by Card Player's Barry Shulman and
sponsored by Bodog.com, was put on to honor the player
of the year as well as other poker standouts. It was a first-class, gala
affair that was a night to remember.

The invitation-only evening started with the players walking the red
carpet for the press and paparazzi. Then, there was an open-bar
cocktail party, followed by the awards show. The master of
ceremonies for the evening was Brad Garrett, from the Ray Romano
show. Unless you've seen Brad do stand-up comedy, there's no way
you would realize how funny he is. And on this night, it was a
no-holds-barred attack on poker players - and they loved it. A couple
of
The Player of the Year award is determined by a yearlong point system. It's one of poker's most
prestigious awards, and the 2005 winner was Men "The Master" Nguyen. Incredibly, "The Master"
has won that award four times in nine years!   That is amazing to me. Hats off to Men "The Master."
Players were nominated and voted on by the top players for awards in various categories, and the
top three vote-getters in each category were the finalists. Phil Ivey was the big dog of the night, as
he won three categories (Best No-Limit Hold'em Player, Best Heads-Up Player, and Most-Feared
Player). Chip Reese won two (Best Cash-Game Player and Best Mixed-Game Player). Other
awards went to Daniel Negreanu (People's Choice Award for Favorite Player, as voted on by the
public), Jennifer Harman (Best Female Player), Michael Gracz (Breakthrough Player), Allen
Cunningham (Most Underrated Player), Jennifer Tilly (Favorite Celebrity Player), Mike Matusow
(Most Entertaining Player), and me (Poker Ambassador).

The highlight of the evening was Doyle Brunson receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. The
standing ovation he got was spine-tingling. Everyone in the room showed appreciation for what
Doyle has meant to poker over the past 40 years. It was fun seeing clips of Doyle as a young
athlete (an amazing one, I might add), and those of his distinguished poker career. His award was a
well-deserved honor. Congratulations, Doyle!
I must say that I was quite flattered to win the Poker Ambassador award. At this stage of my
career, I can think of no greater honor. The top three nominees in this category were Doyle
Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, and me, and topping those guys in any poker category is a thrill.
Although we were the three nominees, there are several other people who have given so much of
themselves to take poker to a higher level who also might have been included on the list of
nominees. They include people like Linda Johnson, Mike Caro, Steve Lipscomb, Barry Greenstein,
Barry Shulman, Jack Binion, Roy Cooke, and, certainly, the past three world champions of poker -
Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, and Joe Hachem - who have been great ambassadors for poker.

I owe a great deal of this award to a number of people who have aided me in my career. Let's start
with my family, especially my father (Ray) and my brother (Tom). They've always been my biggest
supporters.

Much of the credit for my success in moving to the business side of poker goes to Linda Johnson.
She once owned Card Player and hired me to write for the magazine in 1996. (I haven't missed a
column since.) That notoriety as a writer gave me credibility within the industry to create the
Tournament of Champions of Poker (TOC), which was held from 1999 to 2001. Putting that
tournament on was a dream come true for me, and Chuck Humphrey was very helpful in making
that event happen. It was the TOC that led me to my jobs with PartyPoker.com and the World
Poker Tour, and the success of both of those companies has been truly amazing.

WPT founder Steve Lipscomb deserves a part of my Poker Ambassador award, as well. I never
would have won the award without him hiring me to be a commentator on the World Poker Tour.
(Incidentally, I had no previous broadcast experience prior to him hiring me, so he really did take a
shot on me. Fortunately, his instincts worked out well for both of us.) That job put me in the
spotlight, was the reason I wrote Shuffle Up and Deal (a book that made The New York Times
best-seller list), enabled me to teach at WPT Boot Camps, and provided me a platform from which
I could talk about the virtues of poker to both the media and the public.

I always tell anyone who will listen that the World Poker Tour is the primary reason for the growth
of poker, and certainly the Travel Channel gets some credit, as well. It put poker on its schedule in
prime time on a weekly basis (Wednesday night is now "poker night" across America), and the
popularity of poker exploded soon thereafter.

If I had one wish as poker ambassador, it would be that all players treat the game, their opponents,
and the dealers and poker room staffs, with dignity and respect. Behaving properly should be a goal
of all players. I also believe that everyone who makes a living in the poker industry should
automatically be an ambassador of the game, especially those who have become millionaires from
playing poker. Think of the hundreds of thousands of players who dream about becoming
millionaires by playing a game they love. In my opinion, those who have succeeded and those who
will succeed in the future have an obligation to conduct themselves in a professional manner, give
back to the game, and be goodwill ambassadors for poker.

Again, I want to thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who made it possible for me to
even be nominated for such a prestigious award. In my view, winning the Poker Ambassador
award is the highest honor in poker. It was a night to remember.