Archie Karas: $40 million streak
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Rating: 6.3

Archie Karas: $40 million streak

Categories: cheating, gambling history, live poker 2 Jun 2020 700 1

There is one guy actually being thought of as having the greatest gaming run in history. He turned $50 to $40000000 during his run which lasted three years. He is the legendary Archie Karas of course.

Early years 

Archie Karas was born 1951 in Antipata, Kefalonia, Greece. Karas had lived an early life in poverty until his rise to fame and fortune, shooting marbles to escape famine. He bolted at 15, after he threw a shovel at his head for his cash father tied.

He missed but it was enough to see Karas leaving his family home and finding a job on a ship, receiving just $60 a month before he arrived in Portland. Karas would move to Los Angeles shortly afterwards.

Karas learnt to play pool while working in the city as a waiter. The young Greek immigrant would make more money playing pool over time than he did in his jobs. When the pool scene declined, he jumped ship into the poker halls and started building up more than $2 million in funding.

This smaller lucky run, of course, came to a disastrous end as they always do, with Archie having just $50 left – having lost the lot playing high stakes poker. This cycle of going from nothing to something and back to nothing, Archie himself said, happened several times before he finally went on his final journey.

$40 million streak


Archie headed to Las Vegas with only $50 in his pocket, where he went on a six-month ride and quickly converted that crisp fifty into $17 million, playing poker as well as pool. The run had just started. He borrowed $10,000 from a fellow player at the famed Binion's Horseshoe Casino, and played $200-$400 limit Razz, he quickly converted it into $30,000 (with $20,000 going back to his backer).

Karas started to look for pool action with a little over $10,000 in his account. At $10,000 a game, they (Karas and Mr. X respected poker and pool player) began playing pool. They boosted the stakes to $40,000 a game after Karas won several hundred thousand dollars. Many gamblers and professional poker players have seen Archie play at stakes never seen before. Karas ended up with a $1,200,000 win. He then played poker with Mr. X and won an extra $3,000,000 from him. Karas was prepared to play whatever he did and managed to lift the stakes to a level that few dared to play at.

By now, Archie Karas had become famous. He would sit by the poker table, awaiting anybody that was prepared to take him on - few did. Would you? The man had a $5 million stack to play with, and another $2 million in reserves! Only the biggest and best names in poker tried.

Stu Ungar
Stu Ungar

First up was Stu Ungar, but the former WSOP (World Series of Poker champion) lost £1.2 million! Next up that same day was Chip Reese, who himself lost $2,022,000 at the tables. He would later claim that he lost more money to Karas that day, than to any other players put together.

Next on the list were Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson and Johnny Moss and they all dropped. It was only Johnny Chan who was able to get some result from Karas, and even then, only $900,000. Later, Archie Karas would say he found Johnny Chan the hardest of all his opponents to beat. Karas was swift to pocket winnings of over $17 million. But then an question came up. Nobody else wished to enter with stakes as high as he wanted to compete.

Chip Reese
Chip Reese

With poker briefly off the table, Karas switched to craps, Binion's Horseshoe raised the pass line and came bet limits only for him from $100,000 to $300,000, but they quickly restored it when he won $920,000 in just two bets. He 'd wager more and more money at Binion's, winning all their $5,000 chips, and finally needing casino security guards and his brother (as well as a weapon or two) to carry around his $40 million haul.

But in 1995 for Archie Karas everything came crashing down. Any lucky run ends. His had come over a three-week stretch. First, $11 million was lost to playing craps, then to Chip Reese he lost $2 million. Archie Karas will then lose a further $17 million on baccarat.

He returned to Greece, with just $12 million left. The break didn't do him any good. Archie will return to the Horseshoe and Las Vegas where he would lose another $11 million. He will take on Johnny Chan at the Cycling Club, in a $1,000,000 freeze-out event for the final million.

Johnny Chan
Johnny Chan

In the game Karas would beat Chan and Lyle Berman and double his cash. He would lose the ton at dice and baccarat, just days later, until he was up again. Archie Karas was left with none of the $40 million which he had earned when the winning streak started.

Lyle Berman
Lyle Berman

Archie Karas has gone on a number of smaller streaks since his hot streak came to a crashing end, but nothing to match his heyday. A year after his run came to an end, he turned $40,000 into $1,000,000 at the Desert Inn, and would finally return to the Horseshoe to win $4 million all in one day. He will convert $200 into $980,000 a few years later, also at the Horseshoe.

Our days

Today Karas still lives in Las Vegas but flies home to his family in Greece once a year. Over the years the casino's luckiest guy has featured in several magazines and films as well. One proof of this is Cigar Aficionado by Michael Konik, while an E! The documentary is about Vegas Winners and Losers. Not even Karas had been without controversy.

Of course one of the most successful gamblers in the world has been charged with gambling and defrauding a casino. He has recently been caught reportedly marking cards at a blackjack table in a California casino.

Karas was taken into custody week, which is his last Las Vegas, a Nevada home, based on authorities. Karas will be extradited to San Diego to face accusations of burglary, dishonest theft and winning. When Karas is guilty at all costs, he could theoretically face 3 years in jail.

The luck of this defendant ran out due to exceptional collaboration between several different law enforcement agencies working together to investigate and prosecute this case 

said Bonnie Dumanis, County District Attorney from hillcrest.

The case eventually opened in July 2014, after Karas, whose real name is Anargyros Karabourniotis, was seen in a blackjack game using tiny quantities of dye on security cameras identifying cards. Karas has also labelled all cards worth ten (tens, jacks, queens and kings), also as aces, so you can win a bonus over Barona Resort and Casino in Lakeside, California, located inland in North San Diego County.

Barona Resort and Casino
Barona Resort and Casino

Knowing what cards were coming or what card the dealer had into the hole would be enough for people new to the game to give a huge advantage over the casino even to an unskilled player. It helped Karas to make decisions based on what he knew he had to beat the dealer, or to choose whether to strike or stand based on what the next card would be.

Before the 2013 San Diego arrest, Nevada gaming agents had arrested Karas four times since 1988 for allegedly cheating at blackjack in Reno, Las Vegas and Laughlin casinos.

Gaming agents first arrested Karas for marking cards in the Flamingo Reno in Nevada in 1988. His next arrest for another form of card cheating came in 1992 at River Palms in Laughlin. Four years later he was arrested at the California Club in downtown Las Vegas, and at the Aquarius in Laughlin in 2007, both times for card theft.

In each case, Karas took plea bargains and reduced a felony charges.

Marked Cards

By using a hollowed out casino chip, Karas managed to get the dye onto the chips. Throughout the course of the overall game, he would swipe the chip over the cards he needed to make a pass that would be difficult for a dealer to capture at the table but that could be seen on security cameras.

In fact, it is feasible for Karas also to have pulled a similar scheme at other casinos. When investigators searched Karas' house, they found hollowed-out chips from other casinos as well. That said, no other casinos have recently made allegations about Karas cheating at the blackjack tables.

But further into the past, Karas has received a lot of run-ins with officials on video gaming regulation, particularly in Las Vegas.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has investigated Karas on several occasions causing four arrests 

said compliance chief Karl Bennison in a statement. 

Karas was, in many jurisdictions, a danger to the gaming industry.

See more: Archie Karas interview

Rating: 8
Rating: 7.6


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