Famous gamblers in history: Archie Karas

Archie-KarasIf you’re interested in casino games and gambling, then it’s always fascinating to hear about some of the real characters and legends of the casino world – whether it’s big winners or big losers.

In this article we re-cap the story the gambling phenomenon that is Archie Karas.

Born on the Greek island of Cefalonia in 1951, his real name is Anargyros Karabourniotis, but once he had moved to the United States he was commonly known as Archie Karas.

Karas’s claim to fame is that he holds the record for the largest and longest documented winning streak in casino gambling history.

It was December 1992 when Karas began his run with $50.

Throughout his life, Karas had been a phenomenally prolific gambler, high roller, poker player, and pool shark.

In the years leading up to 1992 he had won and lost several fortunes many times over. In the months leading up to December 1992 he had lost everything playing high-stakes poker. All that he had left was $50.

Instead of throwing in the towel, Karas decided to drive to Las Vegas.

First stop was The Mirage where Karas immediately found a streak of good luck – in his first six months in Las Vegas he had turned his $50 into $17 million, mostly playing poker and pool.

Other casinos that hosted Karas during his winning streak included Binion’s Horseshoe;the Bicycle Club; the Gold Strike Casino; and Fitzgerald’s Casino and Hotel.

Having taken on all-comers, Karas’s reputation on the poker tables of Las Vegas was becoming so fierce that (and the stakes so high) that he ran out of people to play against, so he turned to dice games. His winning streak continued and the chips continued to pile up.

By the beginning of 1995 he had transformed that initial stake of $50 into a massive $40 million.

Sadly, within 12 months, Karas had lost it all.

It was really over a period of three weeks when Karas good fortune turned against him – losing first $11 million playing dice, then further losses in poker, and baccarat until it was all gone.

Over the years Karas continued to try his hand at all sorts of betting and casino games, and he continued to see some successes, with smaller winning streaks seeing him win and lose millions at a time.

Karas’s gambling career has not been without controversy. In 2013 he was arrested and charged after being caught marking blackjack cards at a San Diego casino – the charges include burglary, winning by fraudulent means and cheating.

Karas has now made his home in Las Vegas, while most of his immediate and extended family live in Greece.

The story of Karas’s amazing run of good luck and the massive fortune that he has won and lost has been widely documented in books and television documentaries. Karas regularly appears as a specialist commentator at major poker tournaments.

He claims to have gambled with more money in casinos than anyone else in history.


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