Negreanu and Berkey
Daniel Negreanu and Matt Berkey have clashed plenty in recent days. Will it all end at the poker felt?

There are hills to die on in poker, and it is probably fair to say that Ike Haxton wearing a mask or Jonathan Little making it through a money bubble don’t seem like great ones. As an escalating row between Matt Berkey and Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu exploded on X, formerly known as Twitter, both Haxton and Little might feel slightly surprised to be the topic of the latest beef in the poker industry.

A Little Problem Blows Up

Part of the problem between Berkey and Negreanu was miscommunication. It’s so often the way in arguments. One misplaced word here, an ill-chosen sentence there and before you know it, you’re into Al Pacino memes and f-bombs. Kid Poker decided to stick up for the little guy quite literally, jumping to Jonathan Little’s defense after a semi-controversial money bubble moment that taken within the context described by Nick Schulman, amounted to nothing.

Berkey then decided to go after Negreanu on X, formerly known as Twitter, where he said, “We all know [you] use your platform to punch down and smash anyone who rubs the great Kid Poker the wrong way.”

Negreanu was never going to simply take that lying down. Not in the week Carl Weathers sadly passed on, he wasn’t.

“Never apologize for sticking up for a guy being incessantly mocked,” he said. “It’s always the right thing to do. [Jonathan Little] is a successful dude and never deserved any of it. I didn’t become who I am today by ever shying away from sticking up for people when it’s warranted.”

Kid Poker Only Kidding with Haxton

“We’re not talking about Doug Polk, we’re talking about Berkey! What am I worried about?”

Negreanu would later go on to speak at length at what he believes was Berkey’s problem – a condescending manner in the way he talks on subjects and talks others down.

Perhaps the most interesting quote from that came when Negreanu responded to the perfectly natural challenge that perhaps he could settle any differences he has with Berkey at the poker felt, heads-up.

“If I had to play him, I’ll play him, whatever,” he said. “It’s not like I’d be all that concerned. I’m playing Berkey, right? I had to play Doug Polk – that is a challenge where I knew I’d be a significant underdog, but we’re not talking about Doug Polk, we’re talking about Berkey. Berkey! So, what am I worried about?”

Arguments come and go; anger is a diminishing emotion scientifically speaking. The dust settled, the memes came and went and like yesterday’s news, it faded into the annals of the internet. Until the next day, that is. Phil Hellmuth’s long-ranging interview with our friends at Poker.Org saw him criticise Ike Haxton for wearing a mask at the poker table, The Poker Brat explaining that he feels it would be an adavtange for him, tell-wise if he were to wear a mask and that its surely the same for Haxton. Long after COVID, Hellmuth questioned the validity of wearing the mask to prevent contamination with six players around a high stakes final table.

Negreanu added his two cents to the debate by claiming he’d seen Ike smoking outside the (presumably PokerGO) Studio.

Berkey Back to the Beef

“Your blatant jealousy of his success in high rollers while masked is deep-seated and embarrassing.”

Haxton defended this position initially, before appearing to confirm that he’s smoked maybe five times in a couple of years before then using a vape. Negreanu happily accepted he may have been mistaken, and said he meant nothing by the remark.

Berkey, however, was ready to interject.

“Stop bullying him, Daniel,” he said. “Your blatant jealousy of his success in high rollers while masked is deep-seated and embarrassing. You should apologize and show Ike more respect.”

Oh, no. More beef? This time, no. In fact, Daniel Negreanu couldn’t wait to diffuse the situation.

“You are correct,” he admitted. “I swear I almost reached out to him first to ask if he would be OK with me poking fun at the situation, but figured it was a harmless joke. I apologize for not reaching out privately beforehand to make sure you got that I was just making light of it.”

Ok, that’s just funny. No response from Berkey but Kid Poker told a fan that he doesn’t have an issue with the Solve for Why proprietor.

“I don’t hate Berkey,” he said. “Never did. We had our fun. Back to your regularly scheduled programme.”

Which Player Would Win a Heads-Up Battle?

This is a very good question. Negreanu might not be afraid of Berkey but the opposite is likely true too. If they played on PokerGO in a High Stakes Duel format, Berkey could use the money he won from Nik Airball in 2023 to put down the first payment in the three-game battle. Negreanu would be a huge favorite, despite losing 3-0 to Hellmuth in the format, having way more heads-up experience and slaying Doug Polk in the live arena when he faced that challenge.

Negreanu has cashed for over $52 million in live ranking tournaments alone, so add in sponsorships, ambassadorial perks and online winnings both pre and post the poker boom and Kid Poker has likely cashed out for a lot more. By comparison, Berkey’s lifetime cashes of 4.7 million in tournaments are dwarfed by those of his potential opponent. But his $1.1 million top cash came in the $300,000-entry Super High Roller Bowl event in Las Vegas.

Coincidentally, that’s an event that both Isaac Haxton and Daniel Negreanu have won in recent years for over $3 million on each occasion. That’s smoking hot form all round.

Will the fire be put out on Berkey and Negreanu’s beef or could we see a heads-up challenge take place soon in Las Vegas? All we’re asking is to put Phil Hellmuth and Ike Haxton in the commentary booth.