Nik Airball Accuses Matt Berkey of Trying to “Back Out” of Poker Grudge Match, Phil Galfond to Arbitrate

  • Poker pros Nik Airball and Matt Berkey had agreed terms to a grudge match
  • Negotiations have broken down, with Phil Galfond now tasked with arbitrating
  • Airball wants a friend in the room during, Berkey deems it “against the spirit” of the bet
Nik Airball
Poker pro Nik Airball (pictured) has accused his rival Matt Berkey of backing out of their planned grudge match.

With the terms supposedly set, it seemed that Nik Airball and Matt Berkey were ready to do battle on the felt. The pro players – who have recently been embroiled in a very public spat also involving Doug Polk – this week confirmed that they intend to play a heads up match throughout three sessions with a minimum buy-in of $100,000.

Despite Berkey confirming those terms via Twitter on Monday, Airball, real name Nikhil Arcot, has now accused his rival of trying to “back out” of the match altogether:

As per the tweet, the pair have tasked fellow pro Phil Galfond to arbitrate over the ongoing negotiations. In a series of Twitter posts on Wednesday, Galfond shed a little more light on Airball’s statement. He confirmed that Airball wants a friend to sit in the room during the match – a request that Berkey says is “against the spirit of the 1 on 1 bet.”

All the terms set forth were Berkey’s”

Meanwhile, the ever-vocal Airball has had his own say. He claims that Berkey dictated the majority of the existing terms, including the location of the match in his hometown of Vegas. “All the terms set forth were Berkey’s terms outside of the 100k min,” Airball tweeted. He also argued that the mentioned “friend” is not a coach or poker player, and that his presence would not break casino rules.  

In a final tweet, Airball claimed that Doug Polk has offered up $100,000 to the winner of the match, but only if the pros play at the Lodge Card Club in Texas. “If he agrees, I will break out the Cowboy hat and book flights,” Airball said.

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