I pretty much entirely knew Tom only through his writings and occasional appearances on poker podcasts, his voice uncannily sounding like that of his brother. In a relatively small community of poker media types, we had tons of mutual acquaintances although our paths never quite crossed.
Back in the summer when the seriousness of his health problems was first discovered, former PokerNews Editor-in-Chief John Caldwell shared with the site the story of Tom becoming a contributor at PN where he would ultimately file 60 columns under the heading of “Sexton’s Corner.”
As Caldwell relates, back in 2007 (when PokerNews was first getting into the live reporting game), Sexton helped with the coverage of some of the stud and draw tourneys, and while doing so shared several “back in the day” tales that eventually inspired Caldwell to suggest he write them for the site.
In his first column for PN, Tom began with the story of the windfall his brother had received from PartyPoker back when he was signed on to represent them, noting how Mike had told him then he could quit his job as a cab driver, thereby inspiring what would become Tom’s signature line throughout the series, “the cab is parked.” He also started that first column with lots of praise for his brother, something he was able to offer again when introducing him at the 2009 Poker Hall of Fame induction ceremony (as pictured above by Casino City Times’ Vin Narayanan).
The Sexton’s Corner columns ultimately ran from July 2007 through September 2008 and cover a variety of topics including many stories involving his brother, other tales of pros like Puggy Pearson, Dewey Tomko, Stu Ungar, Jennifer Harman, and Johnny Chan, plus additional sketches of various poker people Tom had met and events he had witnessed.
A two-part treatment of Russ Hamilton's 1994 WSOP Main Event win and the shenanigans involved with the bonus prize (the winner's weight in silver) makes for an interesting read, especially in the light of Hamilton's later sad descent into the UltimateBet madness (Part 1, Part 2). And speaking of falls from grace, just a few days ago I had been dipping into Tom's 10-part series (starting here) about Archie Karas following the news of his being accused of marking cards in a blackjack game in a San Diego casino.
As first-hand storytelling with a decidedly personal point of view, some of the Sexton’s Corner columns are probably more valuable than others when it comes to historical veracity and/or objective reporting. But most are interesting and obviously bear witness to the author’s interest in the game and its promotion as well as a few of the characters associated with it.
Will leave to those who knew Tom the business of eulogizing him appropriately -- for example, this piece about him written by Nolan Dalla after his illness was disclosed gives a more detailed portrait of him and what he meant to others. I did, however, want to express condolences here to his family and the many folks I’ve come to know over the years whom I know this week are feeling his loss.