With Doug Polk, Matt Berkey and Nik ‘Airball’ Arcot sitting alongside each other the High Stakes Poker Live action was red hot from start to finish.

Old and New Welcome New Live Era

Over seven hours of High Stakes Poker saw show regulars such as Jennifer Tilly and Jean-Robert Bellande meet with newer players less accustomed to the vagaries of High Stakes Poker (HSP) before, such as Lynne Ji and Nikhil Arcot, known as ‘Airball’ for his exploits on Hustler Casino Live. The HCL format was in no way copied, as the HSP set-up remained as it was and featured none of the more ‘teen-tuned’ graphics of the Global Poker Award-winning brand, but the influence of HCL was felt as a viewer.

A recent disagreement between Berkey and Airball boiled over to the extent that they’re currently embroiled in a massive heads-up clash in which Berkey is up “around $300,000”, but sat next to each other, they were both spectators to mutual frenemy Doug Polk getting the better of the early stages.

An early pot between Polk and Tilly saw the later bump the pit to $85,00 by the river, whereupon an ace fell to give her two pair aces and sevens. They were not good, however, with Polk’s pocket threes having made bottom set on the flop. Tilly checked the river and saw Polk bet $46,300 and after some time, Tilly made the call, folding her cards when Polk declared his set.

Berkey and Airball Go to War

If Polk got off to the best start and Tilly began by losing, the big clash everyone wanted to see was between Matt Berkey and Nikhil Arcot, a.k.a. Airball. It didn’t disappoint viewers in the slightest. There was $1,300 in the heads-up pot by the time the flop landed J-7-2 with two diamonds. Airball bet $1,000 with eight-four of diamonds and Berkey called with pocket aces, in a spade and diamond.

The turn of the king of clubs saw the betting direction change, as Berkey bet $10,000. Airball called and was glad he did when the five of diamonds completed his flush on the river. $28,300 in the pot and much more was on the line. Berkey bet $15,000 but Airball raised to $86,400, setting the Solve for Why all-in.

A massive bet, but could Berkey click the fold button? He considered his options for some time but didn’t manage to find the fold, calling it off and losing his first stack. As he reloaded, Airball waited for the dealer to move Berkey’s stack across to him, but it didn’t happen immediately. Airball, sick of waiting those precious seconds, took matters into his own hands, literally, clawing Berkey’s chips towards his own pile, to a raised eyebrow from the reloading Berkey. No love clearly lost.

Winners and Losers

Berkey didn’t just have aggro with Airball, with a pre-dating argument against Doug Polk dating back at least five years. With Berkey’s opinion about the Lodge and Polk’s opinion on Berkey’s character aired in gruesome detail in recent months – Berkey called Polk an “arrogant c***” among other things – the beef still simmered on the night.

Berkey had aces soon after, and this time took on Jean-Robert Bellande, who himself clashed with Eric Persson on this week’s broadcast episode of HSP. This time, he took chips from Eric Persson, but it was one of the few times ‘Maverick’ took the L. Overall, Persson was the biggest winner on the night, taking home a profit of over $190,000. A short distance behind him was Lynne Ji, whose constant chattering was a source of entertainment to some and ire to others. In general, the constant background noise rubbed some poker observers up the wrong way, including double WSOP bracelet winner Barny Boatman.

Boatman continued in response to Daniel Negreanu posting on the same subject, as ‘Kid Poker’ said: “Let me just say that I am so glad I decided to stay home today and watch hockey instead of that “other thing”. They need to make cackle cancelling mics for the sake of the viewers for live poker streams. Is that a thing? Do we have the tech to mute the cackles???”

Boatman responded: “What they need is a producer listening in, and only bringing the sound up (including previous few seconds) in the unlikely event that the chat is worth listening to. In a big all in, less is more. A bit of [comms], focus on the players in the hand. And respect from other players.”

At the close of play, Airball had lost over $112,000 despite finishing with the most money on the table. Berkey, himself down $22,000 on the night, might have fallen short of profit, but once again he had the last laugh.

Airball and Berkey both feature in this week’s round-up of the best poker drama in our Tight Poker News.

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Paul seaton

Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He's not just a spectator; he's been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul's poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he's interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton's expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.
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