Nik Airball Poker Journey: the Story of the Self-Proclaimed King of La Poker

Home » Nik Airball Poker Journey: the Story of the Self-Proclaimed King of La Poker

If you are a poker fan, you will most likely have heard of Nik Airball. If you haven’t, Nik Airball is a professional poker player known to be quite controversial. He rose to fame by playing live-streamed poker games.

Nik’s journey into the world of poker games began at quite a young age. The professional player grew up in a poker-obsessed household. As a result, he learned to play and love the game. 

During his younger days, Nik used to play poker with his family just for fun. This helped him learn the game’s mechanics and prepare for his seemingly poker career. With time, Nik began playing professionally and eventually went to the United States to seek a professional poker career.

Nik Airball has made a name for himself in the world of top poker players. His recognition can be traced back to his countless accomplishments, which probably influenced his self-proclaimed title of “King of LA Poker.”  A title that isn’t quite accepted by other poker players and the community.

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Read on to learn the story of the self-proclaimed King of LA Poker, Nik Airball!

Poker Career Highlights

Nik Airball made his first major poker appearance at the WSOP Main Event in 2014. In the competition, he finished in fourth place and won a prize of $2.8 million from the competition. This was followed by subsequent poker tournaments, including participating in the Hustler Casino Live in February 2022. Slowly, he climbed the rank, becoming popular in the poker community and also playing high-stakes games.

Subsequently, Nik participated in poker events like the 2018 PokerStars, where he triumphed, earning a whopping sum of $25k. He also participated in the Caribbean Adventure and made a $750k payday. Other poker tournaments Nik has participated in include the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the European Poker Tour (EPT).

Nik Airball soon became a regular on HCL, engaging in poker sessions. His loose play and trash-talking undoubtedly contributed to his fame, making him one of the show’s stars. 

With time, he competed in several prestigious poker tournaments, recording great success in his career path. Nik also won many of these games, both live and online. Nik Airball also made appearances on Poker TV shows and in several poker magazines where he was featured.

However, his attitude also got him into trouble with other regulars in the LA poker scene, like Matt Berkey and Garrett Adelstein. Nik is known to be quite controversial, dividing the poker public with his self-proclaimed title. According to many, he is yet to prove himself as the King of LA Poker following his subsequent performance, although he has managed to stay afloat.

The feud between Nik and other professional poker players was quite serious and controversial. Nik declaring himself as King in Texas poker too didn’t sit well with the other players either.

Away from the poker tables, Nik Airball is an investment banker working for KAL Capital Markets LLC. According to the professional poker player, his job as an investment banker is his main source of income and the source of his seemingly large wealth.

Nik Airball Controversial Call-Outs

Bitter Cackling Rivals Matt Berkey, Nik Airball, Doug Polk Clash on Live  High Stakes Poker | PokerNews

Nik Airball is known to cause quite a stir in the poker community. However, the real drama began in 2023 when the poker player got called out by one of the HCL’s biggest winners, Garrett Adelstein.

Adelstein called out Nik regarding what he saw as a possible cheating scandal following a well-known poker hand Garrett had played earlier on the HCL stream with Robbi Jade. Of course, Nik came out to defend his character on Doug Poll’s podcast and, in the process, took shots at other famous podcast players like Matt Berkey and Adelstein himself.

In the podcast, Nik repeatedly called out Matt Berkey, the owner of the “Solve for Why” poker coaching site, referring to him as a scammer. At the end of the podcast, Nik invited Berkey and Garret to a heads-up for any stake of their choice.

This challenge was accepted by Matt Berkey, who ended up defeating Nik and winning him millions of dollars. Immediately after the match, Garrett Adelstein, whom Nik had earlier also challenged, took to his Twitter, now known as X, to accept the challenge. Garrett invited Nik to a $500/$1,000 heads-up poker match with 100% of their action.

Garrett’s invite was, however, not accepted by the self-proclaimed King of LA Poker. Instead, Nik apologized for trash-talking towards Berkey and claimed that his previous challenge to Garrett had expired.

To make up for his loss, Nik appeared on the HCL Million Dollar Cash Game but ended up losing millions of dollars on the final day of the event after subsequent wins.

Nik Airball in Tracked Poker Games

Nik Airball spent his major poker career at the Hustler Casino Live. He made his first HCL appearance in February 2022; as a result, he has made appearances in several HCL regulars.

These poker games include those of other professional poker players, the likes of Doug Polk, Rob Yong, and Tom Dwan. His early appearances in the games held on Friday nights ended in massive winnings to the tune of $300,000 several times. 

However, in recent games, Nik Airball’s poker games haven’t been that great. The professional poker player has experienced a series of losses, including about $5,000 on the streams, as revealed by 

In March 2023, the self-proclaimed King of Poker lost almost a million dollars in one week on the HCL March edition. Another million dollars later followed this loss in May at the Million Dollar Cash Game hosted by HCL.

Subsequently, he lost on High Stakes Poker while playing with other professional poker players like Matt Berkey, Eric Perssin, and Doug Polk. From his performance at the event, many poker fans agreed that Nik got way too drunk during the stream and was way too loud.

Nik Airball’s other tracked poker games include “The Lodge” in Austin, Texas, at Doug Polk’s poker club, where he got a reasonable win on stream. The professional poker player also appeared at the “High Stakes Poker” show.

Nik Airball claimed that he has won quite a lot of money from these poker games; however, this is hard to believe due to his losses. Nik has lost quite a lot of money at the poker tables, which leads to the poker community questioning his self-proclaimed title as the King of LA Poker.

Nik’s Hustler Casino Live Compensation

Nik’s involvement in a new show season raised questions regarding his lackluster performances in the previous season. Several viewers noticed his number of losses and began questioning his financial ability to sponsor such endeavors.

Nik immediately hinted that he was paid $100,000 for each appearance on the show. This was later colluded by Nick Vertucci, the founder and CEO of the show, who disclosed that Nik was compensated per episode. And his appearance in 8 episodes monthly earned him a total of $800,000.

Once this was brought to light, viewers could reconcile why Nik could appear on the show each week despite the number of losses he faced. 

What’s certain is that HCL compensating Nik for his performance in the show has gone a long way in funding his lavish spending habit.

Nik Airball Net Worth

According to Nik, his entire net worth was made from his job as an investment banker. However, the community has raised doubt about the possibility of making millions from such a profession at a young age.

There have also been various rumors in the poker industry surrounding his exact net worth. Nevertheless, it is important to note that he has played in several cash games and won many tournaments. 

That said, Nik Airball’s net worth is estimated to be within the range of 5 – 10 million dollars currently. However, for that number to increase during his stay in poker rooms, Nik will need to change up his game significantly.

Nik Airball: Poker King Or Bluff? 

Is Nik Airball poker's new super-villain? -

The poker player calls himself the “King of LA poker” and has severally threatened bankruptcy to his opponents. However, his thrash talking to other players doesn’t seem to keep him on a winning streak.

Nik has instead made a name for himself and is now called the Poker Villain. His aggressive and confrontational behavior at the table while playing high-stakes poker on CHL has been anything but pleasing. 

Usually, in the entertainment industry, most shows need someone to start conflict and raise the tension at intervals. It seems like Nik has appointed himself to create drama all the time. In Nik’s case, it looks like he craves the attention that his conduct generates.

Recently, he burned through $759,200 during a game after his bullying attempt backfired in just a few hours. In a poker battle with Wesley Fei, another regular at Hustler Casino Live. They battled it out for a $130,000 pot, but after the game stretch, Nik still failed woefully.

He also entered a tournament with Pepe, a HCL player who had lost over $250,000 in 11 game appearances. At the end of the battle, Nik had to witness the $140,000 pot pushed into his opponent’s arms. These combined total a massive loss of over $920,000 in just two Hustler Casino Live appearances. 

Nik’s most significant losses yet were made in March and May of the year 2023. He lost a million dollars in a week on HCL and another million dollars during the Million Dollar Cash Game night hosted by HCL. 

Nik further lost games with players like Eric Persson, Doug Polk, and Matt Berkey. His match with Matt is one of his most recent losses, as he lost a whopping one million dollars in just 60 hours of live play.

Nik Airball’s recent poker tournament games can barely be tagged as a success story. He has lost millions of dollars playing live poker games on the Lodge, High Stakes Poker matches, and HCL. 

His understanding of the game may be the reason why he has not excelled in the game; however, his charisma certainly sets him apart.


How much is Nik’s total poker earnings? 

Nik Airball has made quite a fortune from the several poker games and competitions he has participated in. According to Nik, he has won millions from all his games put together. However, the result of all his games also shows that he has lost millions to date. So Nik Airball’s total poker earnings are not publicly known.

How does Nik fund the poker matches he plays?

Nik has been quoted saying he worked as an investment banker. However, we don’t see how the job can afford him such wealth to bankroll his poker hobby. The Hustler Casino Live also pays him about $100,000 for each appearance he makes. Therefore, his poker matches are assumed to be funded by his previous winnings.

Why is Nik currently in the spotlight?

Nik Airball is known to be quite a controversial poker player, as a result, he is constantly in the news for the wrong reasons. However, his recent match with Matt Berkey succeeded in placing him in the limelight. This is because he called out the professional poker player and at the end of the game was defeated. Despite losing the game with about $1,000,000, Nik began getting more exposure than he had gotten throughout his poker career.

What is Nik Airball’s net worth? 

According to estimates, Nik’s net worth is between $5 and $10 million. According to him, this figure is derived from his career as an investment banker rather than his poker competition. Nik’s net worth could change though, increasing significantly depending on his future poker performance and other career path.

Why does Nik call himself the King of LA poker?

Nik Airball calls himself the King of LA poker for reasons best known to him. However, the poker community has chosen to call him the Poker Villain instead. The drama and tension he creates during the matches also contributed to his being named a villain. 

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