Nik Airball Loses Grudge Match to Matt Berkey
Last Updated: May 7, 2023
The biggest heads up grudge match we have seen in the poker world since Doug Polk vs. Daniel Negreanu is finished, and Matt Berkey is the winner, both on the felt and in the moral sense.
The match, which came about after a series of provocations from the 26 year old self-proclaimed King of LA Poker ended up being every bit as one-sided as expected, with Berkey winning a cool million dollars seemingly without much trouble.
It took a total of nine sessions and 58 hours of play for Airball to throw in the towel, having lost $1,029,700 in total. This allowed him to opt-out of the challenge as per the original rules.
Airball tweeted out congratulating Matt, and even shook his hand according to eyewitnesses. This was in stark contrast with his previous demeanor regarding the challenge, which may indicate he learned something from the experience.
HU Match Result: -$1,029,700
Congrats to Berkey. He played well and won the match. I’ll make a longer post in a couple days. ✌🏾
— Nik Airball (@nikairball) May 7, 2023
How the Challenge Went Down
The heads up challenge between Nik Airball and Matt Berkey came to be after a series of tweets and provocations by the former, indicating Matt as a fraud, his coaching site as a scam, and the player himself as a joke.
None other than Doug Polk, another huge nemesis of Matt Berkey, added plenty of fuel to the fire, eventually resulting in Berkey accepting Nik’s challenge to play 100 hours of live $200/400 heads up poker.
Despite not being very proficient in heads up poker by his own admission, Berkey felt very confident about winning the match, and stayed very composed throughout the affair.
In his recognizable style, Airball threw even more provocations, memes, and tweets at Berkey, but none of that shook the experienced pro or impacted his game.
A total of nine sessions were played at Las Vegas’ Resorts World Poker Room, with the vast majority of those going in Berkey’s favor, and Nik only booking occasional small wins.
Unfortunately, the poker community was deprived the opportunity to watch the match on live stream, as Matt refused this and would only play if the game was not streamed.
However, we did get plenty of poker hands breakdowns via Twitter from the likes of Brownballa, a poker friend of Airball’s, and Ryan Feldman, the co-owner of Hustler Casino Live.
— Ryan Feldman (@TheRyanFeldman) April 23, 2023
Despite not playing the entire 100 hours that were planned, Berkey managed to win more than $1,000,000 playing $200/400 blinds, a massive win for the small number of hands that were played.
Even before the final session, Matt was already up well over $650,000, only to add finishing touches to the masterpiece by beating Airball out of his final $350,000 buy-in.
Another hand from today: Berkey opens, Nik calls.
Flop 3c4c5d x Berkey bets 1.2k, Nik raises to 4k, Berkey calls.
Turn Jd Nik barrels for 13k Berkey calls.
River 7o Nik barrels for 25k Berkey calls. Nik shows K2dd and Berkey wins with 44.
Failed bloof 😢
— Brownballa (@The_Brownballa) May 6, 2023
Berkey’s reputation as a top poker pro will now be fully fortified until the next challenger comes along, and his poker training site should see at least some benefits from the victory that was always in the cards in this poker pro vs. recreational player match.
What’s Next for Berkey and Airball?
Even before the grudge match started, Matt Berkey often spoke about how busy he gets between his poker academy, podcast, and other obligations.
With the challenge in the books, he should be able to spend more time taking care of those, and has not shown too much interest in taking further challenges, beyond needling Airball into upping the stakes and going again.
Kick up the stakes? https://t.co/h7ggA3zm8p
— Matt Berkey (@berkey11) May 7, 2023
For Nik Airball, on the other hand, this might be just the start of a much bigger story, as he already has plenty of big things lined up.
The self-proclaimed former investment banker lost another $200k on Hustler Casino Live just the other night, in preparation for the upcoming Million Dollar Cash Game, which he should be making an appearance in.
On a completely unrelated note to that game, Garret Adelstein, who has recently ended his poker sabbatical, has also tweeted accepting Nik’s previous challenge to play $500/1k heads up poker, with Garret vouching to have 100% of his own action.
I would like to officially accept @nikairball challenge to play me $500/$1000+ heads up now that things have settled down a bit at home with my newborn. As he loves to say, enough talking, let’s just settle this on the felt. I will have every cent of my own action as requested.
— Garrett Adelstein (@GmanPoker) May 7, 2023
Whether this challenge will go down or not remains to be seen, but it is pretty safe to say that we have an exciting month ahead of us in the poker world, and that’s all before the World Series of Poker even kicks off.