Poker Tales - Archie Karas, the Gambling King

4 years ago
Poker Tales - Archie Karas, the Gambling King
15:17
30 Dec

Las Vegas has always been a city where fortunes are made and lost on a flip of a card or a roll of the dice. Still, few stories can match that of Anargyros Karabourniotis, better known as Archie Karas, one of the most famous gamblers of all time.

Born in 1951 in Greece and raised in poverty, Karas made a name for himself in the early 1990s in a time span known as “The Run” when he made and lost $40 million in Las Vegas casinos, poker rooms and pool joints.

Archie came to America at a young age and started building a life for himself, gambling in Los Angeles, making and losing bankrolls on a regular basis. In 1992, Karas had lost all of his bankroll, barring $50, and made his way to the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas. Once there, his fortunes began to turn.

The Run

Karas hit the pool tables and poker tables, and within half a year, he had built his bankroll up to $17,000,000. Casino after casino, poker room after poker room, Karas kept increasing his fortune, and it seemed nothing could stop him. He kept beating one poker champion after another, including legends Stu Ungar and Chip Reese, who he beat for millions of dollars.

The stakes he played were never before seen and he kept moving them up, sitting at the tables with millions in front of him, waiting for opponents to come and give him heads-up action.

Other, more seasoned pros such as Doyle Brunson and Johnny Moss sat at the table and also lost, while only Johnny Chan managed to come away with a win. The pile of money in Karas’ possession kept growing, and more and more players would not give him action out of fear.

No matter what games Karas played in the gambling pits, it seemed like his luck would never run out. By that time, he had run his initial stake up to an astounding $40,000,000 and owned every last $5,000 chip that the Binion’s Casino had.

Archie’s luck runs out

For two and a half years Archie Karas could not be beat. Not by poker players, not at the pool halls, not in the gambling pits. But every streak must end, and for Archie it ended in an agonizing way.

Over the course of just three short weeks, Archie went from riches back to rags, losing almost all of the $40 million dollars. The majority of the money went back to the gambling pits, while Chip Reese managed to win back several million off the Greek while playing poker.

“The Run” had ended, and Archie was back to broke; but this did not bother the gambling legend. He understood that luck comes in streaks and kept living the life of a gambler. Through the years, Archie had a number of other upswings and downswings, and has never stopped gambling and playing games of chance.

The gambling legend has had a hard time lately, as he was accused and confessed to a charge of cheating at San Diego’s Baron Casino. The Greek was sentenced to three years probation and we will no doubt be seeing him back at the felt.

Hopefully, the self-proclaimed king of gambers continues his career in a more transparent way and, who knows, another good run might be just around the corner.


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Stewart resides in Edinburgh Scotland, and is a key member of the 180Vita team. An early member of the company, Stewart has worked on all of the companies major brands and projects, and is specifically involved in the core operations of PokerTube - Our flagship poker media website.Read more

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