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The recent heads-up match between infamous ‘beefers’ Matt Berkey and Nik Airball may not have been streamed live around the world, but poker fans everywhere felt a part of it. From the pre-match fight that led to the cash game showdown to an early victory, we’ve got the scoop on everything that went down.
Many heads-up clashes come from either the format, the organisers or decades of epic beef. Just the other day, Daniel Negreanu beat Eric Persson in the return of High Stakes Duel. That wasn’t the case here. A stand-up row between Berkey and Airball in real life erupted online, and the challenge was made – each man would put up his own money for a huge no limit hold’em showdown.
As the game started, Landon Tice began commentary on the action. This continued throughout, with perhaps the highlight being the penultimate update where Airball, down $669,000, failed to appear and had to pay a $10,000 penalty which was added to those losses.
Day 9 of @berkey11 vs. @nikairball is not going to happen today.Nik is paying 10k to buy out of today's match.That does in fact go to the total +/- of the match.Match resumes Saturday… MaybeTotals:Matt +669.8kHours Played: 55— Landon (@LandonTice) May 1, 2023
Day 9 of @berkey11 vs. @nikairball is not going to happen today.
Nik is paying 10k to buy out of today's match.
That does in fact go to the total +/- of the match.
Match resumes Saturday… Maybe
Hours Played: 55
— Landon (@LandonTice) May 1, 2023
In the end, it was a stay of execution. Following a brutal final session, Airball went past the million-dollar mark, and that mean the game was over. The pair had agreed a ‘stop/loss’ amount of $1 million, and Berkey had the victory.
In the moments after the denouement of the game, Airball struck a conciliatory figure, at least on social media. Taking to Twitter, where he has 16,700 followers, he congratulated Berkey on his victory. Magnanimous? You’d better believe it.
HU Match Result: -$1,029,700Congrats 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
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
Arcot promised that two days later, he’d go into more detail about the bout and what he’d learned and true to his word, ‘Airball’ was back 48 hours later to break down the experience and put right a few wrongs.
My Statement on the HU Match with @berkey11:First of all, I want to congratulate Matt Berkey on his victory.There was a lot of shit talking, most of it for fun and to add excitement to the match, but in the end I have to give credit where credit is due. He played well, and…— Nik Airball (@nikairball) May 9, 2023
My Statement on the HU Match with @berkey11:
First of all, I want to congratulate Matt Berkey on his victory.
There was a lot of shit talking, most of it for fun and to add excitement to the match, but in the end I have to give credit where credit is due. He played well, and…
— Nik Airball (@nikairball) May 9, 2023
Amid a flurry of feedback, it seemed like the tide had turned. After waves of anger had crashed over Airball in recent times, suddenly it appeared he was in calmer seas, even content to joke about his employment situation in the aftermath.
Anyone got a lead on an investment banking job? https://t.co/zjHUEYIpJh— Nik Airball (@nikairball) May 11, 2023
Anyone got a lead on an investment banking job? https://t.co/zjHUEYIpJh
— Nik Airball (@nikairball) May 11, 2023
Matt Berkey was quick to accept his opponent’s apology, and on Twitter in poker ‘public’, too.
I honestly think this statement is closer to the real person Nik is at his core than all of the antics reflect. Saw plenty of very small examples of him going out of his way to be kind both with his words and actions.Thank you for the apology 🤝 https://t.co/Kjht30eS9d— Matt Berkey (@berkey11) May 9, 2023
I honestly think this statement is closer to the real person Nik is at his core than all of the antics reflect. Saw plenty of very small examples of him going out of his way to be kind both with his words and actions.
Thank you for the apology 🤝 https://t.co/Kjht30eS9d
— Matt Berkey (@berkey11) May 9, 2023
Berkey’s use of the words “plenty of very small examples of him going out of his way to be kind” might possibly come across as needle, but that aside, it’s a solid approach to the apology from Airball. The most important factor of the apology, it would seem, is the reference to Berkey’s stand-up behaviour. As a career poker professional, Bereky was not happy about being labelled a ‘scammer’ by Airball. Mud can stick and when it has no right being thrown in his direction, as he believe, Berkey was understandably riled up.
In the end, that beef got Airball his heads-up match and further propelled him into the poker spotlight – likely the aim of his created friction with Berkey in the first place. Airball is now a high stakes cash mainstay on live streams. It just cost him a million dollars to book his seat.
Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!
Looks like you’ve been dealt a bad beat. We’ll shuffle the deck and try again.