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Matt Berkey on Only Friends Origin and Upcoming BetMGM Poker Championship

Matt Berkey

From June 23-26, leading sports betting and internet gaming operator BetMGM Poker will hold the inaugural $3,500 buy-in BetMGM Poker Championship at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The BetMGM Poker Championship, which headlines the 2022 ARIA Poker Classic, will not only be comprised of players in Las Vegas, but also a slew of players from Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania who are busy winning their way via online qualifiers.

"There are already 30 online qualifiers and it looks like there’s going to be around 75 total when all is said and done," said Matt Berkey, who is representing BetMGM this summer. " I know the next two Sundays they’re going to be running five-seat giveaways. We really haven’t seen too much of this since Black Friday, it’s nice to finally see the two worlds merge together."

Another part of the qualifier process will be a player party and freeroll: "The day before the actual BetMGM Championship there will be a freeroll where Darren Elias and I will be doing a meet-and-greet. We’ll give them some quick pointers before they get in there for a chance to win their way into the Main Event."

While he won't be winning his way in via an online qualifier, Berkey still has every intention of playing.

"I’ve got all the bullets in the chamber. I'll fire as many as I need."

"I’ve got all the bullets in the chamber," he told PokerNews. "I'll fire as many as I need."

He's also looking forward to playing the $600 BetMGM Mystery Bounty.

"I’ve played one at the Wynn, didn’t make Day 2, so I’ve no idea what it’s like to stick my hand in that roller wheel," he said, "but I really want to try and get that experience, so there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be in the BetMGM Mystery Bounty as well."

For now, Berkey looks forward to continuing his relationship with BetMGM.

"It’s been really smooth. I know Luke Staudenmaier [Director of Poker of BetMGM], he’s a Pittsburgh guy himself," said Berkey. "He’s wrapped up in the community. It’s nice to see someone who has their hand so heavily involved as a player kind of make their way into a management position. He’s really easy to deal with. Obviously, Tom Wheaton has been a big help and influence with all of this. He’s always overseeing everything, so he’s nice to have as a friend in my corner."

Berkeys' BetMGM deal paid big dividends back in March when he traveled home to Pennsylvania to represent the brand in the March Poker Mania for the $1,060 Main Event. Berkey stole the show on the final day of the series with a win in a wild finish in Pennsylvania, while "s7udz88" and "GogoYubari" took down the Main Events in Michigan and New Jersey.

"I wasn’t going to go home and not hold it down for Pittsburgh. I had to make the trip worthwhile, so yeah, I was lucky enough to ship the Main Event," he said with a smile.

Berkey came from behind in late final table play to defeat Edward "Hisoka" Leonard, who held a commanding lead throughout the end stages.

BetMGM Pennsylvania March Poker Mania Main Event Final Table Results

1Matt Berkey$31,250
2Edward "Hisoka" Leonard$17,500
6"Gail the Snail"$5,550
Matt Berkey Only Friends

Finally, Berkey commented on his new his web show, Only Friends.

"I’m a huge Pat Macafee fan. For anybody who doesn’t know who that is, he was a punter for the Indianapolis Colts, also a Pittsburgh native. He actually grew up 10 miles away from where I grew up," Berkey said of the show's origin. "I’ve kind of followed his journey since retiring. He did this really cool thing where he got six or seven of his closest friends and just started a daily show on the internet."

He continued: "Here we are a few years later and he’s been picked up by SiriusXM, by Fan Duel, he just signed a $100 million deal. I said you know what the poker space lacks – daily content. Why not us? We have the ability, we have the production crew, we have the team to do it. So it sort of fell out of the sky overnight, kind of emulating a little bit of what Pat Macafee does on his show."

Check Out Matt Berkey's PokerNews Player Profile Here!

  • Matt Berkey (@berkey11) talks Only Friends origin & upcoming @BetMGMPoker Championship at @ARIAPoker.

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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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