Matt Berkey & ‘Nik Airball’ Kick Off High-Stakes Heads-Up Match

The talking behind them, the heads-up grudge match saw some action this weekend.

Jeff Walsh
Apr 2, 2023
Matt Berkey (left) and Nik Arcot (aka ‘Nik Airball’) began their heads-up match over the weekend.

For a moment late last week, it looked like it might not happen at all.

But after all the call-outs, negotiations, last-minute friend requests, and even some chest bumping in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio, high-stakes players Matt Berkey and Nik Arcot (aka ‘Nik Airball’) finally got in a room, sat face-to-face, and anted up for their million-dollar high-stakes heads-up grudge match.

The first session, which lasted roughly seven hours, took place on Saturday afternoon at Resorts World in Las Vegas. Berkey, ‘Airball’, a staff dealer, and hundreds of thousands of dollars made their way to the poker room’s enclosed private table to get things started. With the match not being streamed, interested parties in the poker world were relying on social media to get a glimpse inside the glass of what was going down. And, given the volatile history between the two, there was drama almost instant.

Only Friends Podcast cast member and Solve For Why coach Landon Tice was among the players dishing out dirt over the weekend with regular updates coming via his Twitter account. While memes and chatter of a “secret meeting” between ‘Airball’ and his friend ‘Brownballa’ were swirling on the internet, it was noted that Berkey and Arcot resumed the match and played the day mostly in silence.

As far as results, at one point, Arcot was in a $400,000 hole on the day. On the verge of losing big, ‘Airball’ rebounded after a swing went his way and the Hustler Casino Live star ended the night down roughly $135,500 to Berkey. Joey Ingram was on hand for some post-game interviews.

The pair came back the very next day for more $200/$400 ($400 ante) action. Like he did the day before, Berkey made an early dent in ‘Airball’s bankroll with in huge hand that went Berkey’s way on the river.

However, after nearly five hours of play and after being down over $200,000 on the day, Arcot once again battled back. Unlike Saturday, on Sunday Arcot erased the entire downswing and the pair finished the day dead even. At the end of the weekend, the challenge is essentially 1/10th of the way done with Berkey holding a slim lead at $133,500. Perhaps just as interesting is the hearsay from the match that had Berkey and ‘Airball’ thawing out to each other a little, even sharing a laugh.

However, true or not, any laughs these two may have shared can vanish in a heartbeat at these stakes. With Berkey buying in for $100,000 and Arcot even deeper, the deficit is really only one buy-in, and at these stakes, the swings can be massive.

The match resumes on Monday and then, should the terms that were laid out still apply, the pair will take the rest of the week off and come back next weekend.

Update:  4/4

After another seven hours of play and a report of a half-a-million dollar pot, Arcot finished Monday’s session up roughly $85,000, cutting into Berkey’s six-figure lead. With the challenge 1/5th complete (19.5 hours played) Berkey’s lead is down to a third of a buy-in.

It’s virtually dead even headed into the first four-day break.

The pair will reunite next Saturday for more heads-up action.