Nik ‘Airball’ Arcot Bows to Matt Berkey after Losing $1 Million in Heads-Up Grudge Match

5 min read

Like the month of March, which rushes in like a lion only to go out like a lamb, Nik “Airball” Arcot bowed-out of his high stakes heads-up match against poker pro, coach, and award-winning poker podcaster Matt Berkey with a whimper.

Matt Berkey, representing the 412, finished off Nik Arcot on Saturday, taking $1 million from the man who calls himself ‘Airball.’ (Image: WPT)

Down a hair over $1 million, Arcot had enough and quit.

It was a quiet and subdue exit for poker’s newest cash-game loudmouth whose antics and seemingly disinterest in the value of money has made him a favorite of livestream poker producers, Hustler Casino Live in particular.

The defeat on Saturday, May 9, capped off a horrendous several days for Arcot. The day before the final match with Berkey, he torched more than $200,000 on Hustler Casino Live. A week before that, he lost about $170,000 on a special High Stakes Poker livestream, where he also tussled with Berkey.

Coup de grace

It seems that Arcot arrived at Resorts World on Saturday ready for it to be over.

When the two agreed to play each other in March, they made several rules. There would be no rail. There would be penalties for missing a session. And they would play heads-up $200/400 100 times, with the option that if someone goes down $1 million before that, they could drop out. Phil Galfond was tasked to be the match’s arbitrator and referee, and his rulings would be final.

While Arcot took a slight lead at the very beginning, it’s been all Berkey since. Going into the match on Saturday, he was up $669,300 after 59 sessions.

Arcot sat with a stack of $350,000, which — if he lost it — would put him over the $1 million deficit and allow him to quit playing the Solve For Why founder.

After several hours, all the money went into the pot in a set-over-set situation, and that was the end to grudge match that started in March after Arcot called Berkey a fraud and a “scammer” on Doug Polk’s tabloid-like podcast.

Berkey addressed the charges on his own podcast, Only Friends, and issued a heads-up challenge to Arcot.

Arcot gleefully — if not a little sadistically, in hindsight — accepted.

Berkey stipulated that it wouldn’t be live-streamed or recorded, but details about the match trickled out thanks to Landon Tice and his Twitter feed.

While Arcot has promised a longer post or video about the match, nothing has come after three days.

Arcot is going to have to quickly shake off the loss (that is, if the money even matters to him) because he’s scheduled to appear on the Hustler Casino Live Million Dollar Game May 27-29. Promising to be the most expensive poker game ever livestreamed, players are required to buy-in for $1 million minimum.


It’s a plus that many of the players in this game are, at their best, very good amateurs like Eric Persson and DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang, because it sure seems like the pros have figured out ways to beat Arcot like a rented mule, no matter how much he bitches, moans, taunts and needles.

Stay tuned. This might get ugly.


Soon after publication, Arcot released a statement through Twitter. It reads:

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 he played better than I expected he would. He won fair and square, and he deserves to celebrate his win.

I want to apologize for the comments I made about Matt being a scammer and the negative comments I made about his business. That was out of line and I regret making those comments. I got caught up emotionally in the heat of the moment and said some things I shouldn’t have said, and for that I apologize. Matt showed during this match that he is a true professional.

I have a lot to learn as a poker player. I have a newfound respect for heads up poker. I didn’t have any experience in heads up, but I learned a lot while studying for and playing this match, and I have a lot more to learn. My experience is in live ring games, and that’s where I feel most comfortable and have the most fun.

I also have a lot to learn as a person and a public figure in the poker world. My close friends know the type of person I really am and the character I have. But in poker, I enjoy being an exuberant polarizing character. I believe that poker needs characters, but sometimes I go too far with it, and that’s something I need to work on. I’m never going to change how I really am – fun, loud, social, sometimes obnoxious. But I can work on being better at not making comments that can be hurtful. In the end, I just want to have fun and play some poker.

Thanks to everyone who supported me throughout this match. It was a fun journey, even though I fell short. Even to the haters, I appreciate all of you as well.

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